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(Elje Htoer0itoe JJrefid 





HURD (Vol. I, page 458) Frontispiece 

From an original drawing by Mr. Charles E. Brock. 


From an original drawing by Mr. Brock. 


This is a late eighteenth-century addition to the house 
which was described as Mellor Park. (See Notes on 
the Illustrations, Vol. V.) It masks some of the oldest 
portions of the house and gives access to the fine Tudor 
hall, which contains interesting portraits of the Tudor 
and Stuart times. From a photograph taken especially 
for this edition. 


'They had been sitting in the famous garden of the 
Cappucini Hotel at Amalfi. To Marcella's left, far be- 
low the high terrace of the hotel, the green and azure of 
the Salernian gulf shone and danced in the sun, to her 
right a wood of oak and arbutus stretched up into a 
purple cliff a wood starred above with gold and 
scarlet berries, and below with cyclamen and narcissus.' 
From a photograph. 


From an original drawing by Mr. Brock. 


'O Neigung, sage, wie hast du so tief 
Im Herzen dich verstecket? 

Wer hat dich, die verborgen schlief, 



DON'T suppose that I feel enthusiastic or senti- 
mental about the "claims of Labour, " ' said Wharton, 
smiling, to the lady beside him. 'You may get that 
from other people, but not from me. I am not moral 
enough to be a fanatic. My position is simplicity 
itself. When things are inevitable, I prefer to be on 
the right side of them, and not on the wrong. There 
is not much more in it than that. I would rather be 
on the back of the "bore" for instance, as it sweeps 
up the tidal river, than the swimmer caught under- 
neath it.' 

'Well, that is intelligible/ said Lady Selina Farrell, 
looking at her neighbour, as she crumbled her dinner- 
roll. To crumble your bread at dinner is a sign of 
nervousness, according to Sydney Smith, who did it 
with both hands when he sat next an archbishop ; yet 
no one for a good many years past had ever suspected 
Lady Selina of nervousness, though her powers had 
probably been tried before now by the neighbourhood 
of many primates, Catholic and Anglican. For Lady 
Selina went much into society, and had begun it 

'Still, you know/ she resumed after a moment's 
pause 'you play enthusiasm in public I suppose 
you must/ 

'Oh! of course/ said Wharton, indifferently. 'That 
is in the game.' 

[ 3 ] 


'Why should it be always? If you are a leader 
of the people, why don't you educate them? My 
father says that bringing feeling into politics is like 
making rhymes in one's account-book/ 

'Well, when you have taught the masses how not 
to feel/ said Wharton, laughing, 'we will follow your 
advice. Meanwhile it is our brains and their feelings 
that do the trick. And by the way, Lady Selina, are 
you always so cool? If you saw the Revolution coming 
to-morrow into the garden of Alresford House, would 
you go to the balcony and argue?' 

' I devoutly hope there would be somebody ready to 
do something more to the point/ said Lady Selina, 
hastily. 'But of course we have enthusiasms too.' 

'What, the Flag and the Throne that kind of 

The ironical attention which Wharton began at 
this moment to devote to the selection of an olive 
annoyed his companion. 

'Yes/ she repeated, emphatically, 'the Flag and the 
Throne all that has made England great in the past. 
But we know very well that they are not your en- 

Wharton 's upper lip twitched a little. 

'And you are quite sure that Busbridge Towers 
has nothing to do with it?' he said, suddenly, look- 
ing round upon her. 

Busbridge Towers was the fine ancestral seat which 
belonged to Lady Selina's father, that very respectable 
and ancient peer, Lord Alresford, whom an ungrate- 
ful party had unaccountably omitted for the first 
time from the latest Conservative Administration. 
[ 4 ] 


'Of course we perfectly understand/ replied Lady 
Selina, scornfully, 'that your side and especially 
your Socialist friends, put down all that we do and 
say to greed and selfishness. It is our misfortune - 
hardly our fault.' 

'Not at all/ said Wharton, quietly, 'I was only try- 
ing to convince you that it is a little difficult to drive 
feeling out of politics. Do you suppose our host suc- 
ceeds? You perceive? this is a Radical house 
and a Radical banquet?' 

He pushed the menu towards her significantly. Then 
his eye travelled with its usual keen rapidity over the 
room, over the splendid dinner-table, with its display 
of flowers and plate, and over the assembled guests. 
He and Lady Selina were dining at the hospitable 
board of a certain rich manufacturer, who drew 
enormous revenues from the west, had formed part of 
the Radical contingent of the last Liberal Ministry, 
and had especially distinguished himself by a series 
of uncompromising attacks on the ground landlords of 

Lady Selina sighed. 

'It is all a horrible tangle/ she said, 'and what the 
next twenty years will bring forth who can tell? Oh ! 
one moment, Mr. Wharton, before I forget. Are you 
engaged for Saturday week?' 

He drew a little note-book out of his pocket and 
consulted it. It appeared that he was not engaged. 

'Then will you dine with us?' She lightly men- 
tioned the names of four or five distinguished guests, 
including the Conservative Premier of the day. 
Wharton made her a little ceremonious bow. 

[ 5 ] 


'I shall be delighted. Can you trust me to behave?' 

Lady Selina's smile made her his match for the 

'Oh! we can defend ourselves!' she said. 'By the 
way, I think you told me that Mr. Raeburn was not 
a friend of yours.' 

'No/ said Wharton, facing her look with coolness. 
'If you have asked Mr. Raeburn for the 23rd, let me 
crave your leave to cancel that note in my pocket- 
book. Not for my sake, you understand, at all.' 

She had difficulty in concealing her curiosity. But 
his face betrayed nothing. It always seemed to her 
that his very dark and straight eyebrows, so obtrusive 
and unusual as compared with the delicacy of the 
features, of the fair skin and light brown curls, made 
it easy for him to wear any mask he pleased. By their 
mere physical emphasis they drew attention away 
from the subtler and more revealing things of ex- 

'They say,' she went on, 'that he is sure to do well 
in the House, if only he can be made to take interest 
enough in the party. But one of his admirers told me 
that he was not at all anxious to accept this post they 
have just given him. He only did it to please his 
grandfather. My father thinks Lord Maxwell much 
aged this year. He is laid up now, with a chill of some 
sort, I believe. Mr. Raeburn will have to make haste 
if he is to have any career in the Commons. But you 
can see he cares very little about it. All his friends 
tell me they find him changed since that unlucky 
affair last year. By the way, did you ever see that 

[ 6 ] 


'Certainly. I was staying in her father's house 
while the engagement was going on/ 

'Were you!' said Lady Selina, eagerly; 'and what 
did you think of her?' 

'Well, in the first place,' said Wharton, slowly, 'she 
is beautiful you knew that?' 

Lady Selina nodded. 

'Yes. Miss Raeburn, who has told me most of what 
I know, always throws in a shrug and a "but" when you 
ask about her looks. However, I have seen a photo- 
graph of her, so I can judge for myself. It seemed to 
me a beauty that men perhaps would admire more 
than women.' 

Wharton devoted himself to his green peas, and 
made no reply. Lady Selina glanced at him sharply. 
She herself was by no means a beauty. But neither 
was she plain. She had a long, rather distinguished 
face, with a marked nose and a wide, thin-lipped 
mouth. Her plentiful fair hair, a little dull and ashy 
in colour, was heaped up above her forehead in in- 
finitesimal curls and rolls which did great credit to 
her maid, and gave additional height to the head and 
length to a thin white neck. Her light blue eyes were 
very direct and observant. Their expression implied 
both considerable knowledge of the world and a natural 
inquisitiveness. Many persons indeed were of opinion 
that Lady Selina wished to know too much about you 
and were on their guard when she approached. 

'You admired her very much, I see,' she resumed, 
as Wharton still remained silent. 

'Oh, yes. We talked Socialism, and then I de- 
fended her poacher for her/ 

[ 7 ] 


'Oh, I remember. And it is really true, as Miss 
Raeburn says, that she broke it off because she could 
not get Lord Maxwell and Mr. Raeburn to sign the 
petition for the poacher?' 

'Somewhere about true/ said Wharton, carelessly. 

'Miss Raeburn always gives the same account; you 
can never get anything else out of her. But I some- 
times wonder whether it is the whole truth. You think 
she was sincere?' 

'Well, she gave up Maxwell Court and thirty thou- 
sand a year/ he replied, dryly. 'I should say she had 
at least earned the benefit of the doubt/ 

'I mean/ said Lady Selina, 'was she in love with 
anybody else, and was the poacher an excuse?' 

She turned upon him as she spoke a smiling, 
self-possessed person a little spoilt by those hard, 
inquisitive eyes. 

'No, I think not/ said Wharton, throwing his head 
back to meet her scrutiny. 'If so, nothing has been 
heard of him yet. Miss Boyce has been at St. Ed- 
ward's Hospital for the last year.' 

'To learn nursing? It is what all the women do 
nowadays, they tell me, who can't get on with their 
relations or their lovers. Do you suppose it is such 
a very hard life?' 

'I don't want to try!' said Wharton. 'Do you?' 

She evaded his smile. 

'What is she going to do when she has done her 

'Settle down and nurse among the poor, I believe.' 

'Magnificent, no doubt, but hardly business, from 
her point of view. How much more she might have 

[ 8 ] 


done for the poor with thirty thousand a year ! And 
any woman could put up with Aldous Raeburn.' 

Wharton shrugged his shoulders. 

'We come back to those feelings, Lady Selina, you 
think so badly of.' 

She laughed. 

'Well, but feelings must be intelligible. And this 
seems so small a cause. However, were you there 
when it was broken off? 7 

'No; I have never seen her since the day of the 
poacher's trial/ 

' Oh ! So she has gone into complete seclusion from 
all her friends? 7 

'That I can't answer for. I can only tell you my 
own experience/ 

Lady Selina bethought herself of a great many more 
questions to ask, but somehow did not ask them. The 
talk fell upon politics, which lasted till the hostess 
gave the signal, and Lady Selina, gathering up her 
fan and gloves, swept from the room next after the 
Countess at the head of the table, while a host of 
elderly ladies, wives of Ministers and the like, stood 
meekly by to let her pass. 

As he sat down again, Wharton made the entry 
of the dinner at Alresford House, to which he had 
just promised himself, a little plainer. It was the 
second time in three weeks that Lady Selina had 
asked him, and he was well aware that several other 
men at this dinner-table, of about the same standing 
and prospects as himself, would be very glad to be 
in his place. Lady Selina, though she was unmarried, 
and not particularly handsome or particularly charm- 

[ 9 ] 


ing, was a personage and knew it. As the mistress 
of her father's various fine houses, and the kinswoman 
of half the great families of England, she had ample 
social opportunities, and made, on the whole, clever 
use of them. She was not exactly popular, but in her 
day she had been extremely useful to many, and her 
invitations were prized. Wharton had been intro- 
duced to her at the beginning of this, his second 
session, had adopted with her the easy, aggressive, 
' personal' manner which, on the whole, was his 
natural manner towards women and had found it 
immediately successful. 

When he had replaced his pocket-book, he found 
himself approached by a man on his own side of the 
table, a member of Parliament like himself, with whom 
he was on moderately friendly terms. 

'Your motion comes on next Friday, I think/ said 
the newcomer. 

Wharton nodded. 

'It'll be a beastly queer division/ said the other 
'a precious lot of cross-voting/ 

'That'll be the way with that kind of question 
for a good while to come don't you think, ' said 
Wharton, smiling, 'till we get a complete reorganisa- 
tion of parties?' 

As he leaned back in his chair, enjoying his cigarette, 
his half-shut eyes behind the curls of smoke made 
a good-humoured but contemptuous study of his com- 

Mr. Bateson was a young manufacturer, recently 
returned to Parliament, and newly married. He had 
an open, ruddy face, spoilt by an expression of chronic 
[ 10 ] 


perplexity, which was almost fretfulness. Not that 
the countenance was without shrewdness; but it sug- 
gested that the man had ambitions far beyond his 
powers of performance, and already knew himself to 
be inadequate. 

'Well, I should n't wonder if you get a considerable 
vote/ he resumed, after a pause; 'it's like women's 
suffrage. People will go on voting for this kind of 
thing, till there seems a chance of getting it. Then!' 

'Ah, well!' said Wharton, easily, 'I see we shan't 
get you.' 

'I! vote for an eight-hours day, by local and 
trade option! In my opinion I might as well vote 
for striking the flag on the British Empire at once! 
It would be the death-knell of all our prosperity.' 

Wharton 's artistic ear disliked the mixture of meta- 
phor, and he frowned slightly. 

Mr. Bateson hurried on. He was already excited, 
and had fallen upon Wharton as a prey. 

'And you really desire to make it penal for us manu- 
facturers for me in my industry in spite of all 
the chances and changes of the market, to work my 
men more than eight hours a day even if they 
wish it!' 

'We must get our decision, our majority of the 
adult workers in any given district in favour of an 
eight-hours day,' said Wharton, blandly; 'then when 
they have voted for it, the local authority will put 
the Act in motion.' 

'And my men conceivably may have voted in 
the minority against any such tomfoolery; yet, when 
the vote is given, it will be a punishable offence for 


them, and me, to work overtime? You actually mean 
that; how do you propose to punish us?' 

'Well/ said Wharton, relighting his cigarette, 'that 
is a much-debated point. Personally, I am in favour 
of imprisonment rather than fine/ 

The other bounded on his chair. 

'You would imprison me for working overtime - 
with willing men!' 

Wharton eyed him with smiling composure. Two 
or three other men an old general, the smart private 
secretary of a Cabinet Minister, and a well-known 
permanent official at the head of one 'of the great 
spending departments who were sitting grouped at 
the end of the table a few feet away, stopped their 
conversation to listen. 

' Except in cases of emergency, which are provided 
for under the Act/ said Wharton. 'Yes, I should 
imprison you, with the greatest pleasure in life. Eight 
hours plus overtime is what we are going to stop, at 
all hazards!' 

A flash broke from his blue eyes. Then he tran- 
quilly resumed his smoking. 

The young manufacturer flushed with angry agita- 

'But you must know, it is inconceivable that you 
should not know, that the whole thing is stark staring 
lunacy. In our business, trade is declining, the ex- 
ports falling every year, the imports from France 
steadily advancing. And you are going to make us 
fight a country where men work eleven hours a day, 
for lower wages, with our hands tied behind our backs 
by legislation of this kind? Well, you know/ he threw 
[ 12 ] 


himself back in his chair with a contemptuous laugh, 
'there can be only one explanation. You and your 
friends, of course, have banished political economy 
to Saturn and you suppose that by doing so you 
get rid of it for all the rest of the world. But I imagine 
it will beat you, all the same!' 

He stopped in a heat. As usual what he found to 
say was not equal to what he wanted to say, and 
beneath his anger with Wharton was the familiar 
fuming at his own lack of impressiveness. 

'Well, I dare say/ said Wharton, serenely. 'How- 
ever, let's take your "political economy" a moment, 
and see if I can understand what you mean by it. 
There never were two words that meant all things 
to all men so disreputably ! ' 

And thereupon to the constant accompaniment of 
his cigarette, and with the utmost composure and good 
temper, he began to 'heckle' his companion, putting 
questions, suggesting perfidious illustrations, extract- 
ing innocent admissions, with a practised shrewdness 
and malice, which presently left the unfortunate Bate- 
son floundering in a sea of his own contradictions, and 
totally unable for the moment to attach any rational 
idea whatever to those great words of his favourite 
science, wherewith he was generally accustomed to 
make such triumphant play, both on the platform 
and in the bosom of the family. 

The permanent official round the corner watched 
the unequal fight with attentive amusement. Once, 
when it was a question of Mill's doctrine of cost of 
production as compared with that of a leading modern 
collectivist, he leant forward and supplied a correction 


of something Wharton had said. Wharton instantly 
put down his cigarette and addressed him in another 
tone. A rapid dialogue passed between them, the 
dialogue of experts, sharp, allusive, elliptical, in the 
midst of which the host gave the signal for joining 
the ladies. 

'Well, all I know is/ said Bateson, as he got up, 
'that these kinds of questions, if you and your friends 
have your way, will wreck the Liberal party before 
long far more effectually than anything Irish has 
ever done. On these things some of us will fight, if 
it must come to that/ 

Wharton laughed. 

'It would be a national misfortune if you did n't 
give us a stiff job/ he said, with an airy good -humour 
which at once made the other's blustering look ridic- 

'I wonder what that fellow is going to do in the 
House/ said the permanent official to his companion 
as they went slowly upstairs, Wharton being 'some 
distance ahead. 'People are all beginning to talk of 
him as a coming man, though nobody quite knows 
why, as yet. They tell me he frames well in speaking, 
and will probably make a mark with his speech next 
Friday. But his future seems to me very doubtful. 
He can only become a power as the head of a new 
Labour party. But where is the party? They all 
want to be kings. The best point in his favour is that 
they are likely enough to take a gentleman if they 
must have a leader. But there still remains the ques- 
tion whether he can make anything out of the ma- 


'I hope to God he can't!' said the old general, 
grimly; 'it is these town-chatterers of yours that will 
bring the Empire about our heads before we've done. 
They've begun it already, wherever they saw a 

In the drawing-room Wharton devoted himself for 
a few minutes to his hostess, a little pushing woman, 
who confided to his apparently attentive ear a series 
of grievances as to the bad manners of the great 
ladies of their common party, and the general evil 
plight of Liberalism in London from the social point 
of view. 

'Either they give themselves airs ridiculous air si 
or they admit everybody ! ' she said, with a lavish 
use of white shoulders and scarlet fan by way of 
emphasis. 'My husband feels it just as much as I do. 
It is a real misfortune for the party that its social 
affairs should be so villainously managed. Oh ! I dare 
say you don't mind, Mr. Wharton, because you are 
a Socialist. But, I assure you, those of us who still 
believe in the influence of the best people don't like it.' 

A point whence Wharton easily led her through 
a series of spiteful anecdotes bearing on her own social 
mishaps and rebuffs, which were none the less illum- 
inating because of the teller's anxious effort to give 
them a dignified and disinterested air. Then, when 
neither she nor her plight was any longer amusing, 
he took his leave, exchanging another skirmishing 
word or two on the staircase with Lady Selina, who 
it appeared was 'going on' as he was, and to the same 

[ 15 ] 


In a few minutes his hansom landed him at the 
door of a great mansion in Berkeley Square, where 
a huge evening party was proceeding, given by one 
of those Liberal ladies whom his late hostess had been 
so freely denouncing. The lady and the house be- 
longed to a man who had held high office in the late 

As he made his way slowly to the top of the crowded 
stairs, the stately woman in white satin and diamonds 
who was 'receiving' on the landing marked him, and 
when his name was announced she came forward a 
step or two. Nothing could have been more flattering 
than the smile with which she gave him her gloved 
hand to touch. 

'Have you been out of town all these Sundays?' 
she said to him, with the slightest air of soft reproach. 
' I am always at home, you know I told you so ! ' 

She spoke with the ease of one who could afford to 
make whatever social advances she pleased. Wharton 
excused himself, and they chatted a little in the inter- 
vals of her perpetual greetings to the mounting crowd. 
She and he had met at a famous country-house in the 
Easter Recess, and her aristocrat's instinct for all that 
gives savour and sharpness to the dish of life had 
marked him at once. 

'Sir Hugh wants you to come down and see us in 
Sussex,' she said, stretching her white neck a little to 
speak after him, as he was at last carried through the 
drawing-room door by the pressure behind him. 'Will 

He threw back an answer which she rather took for 
granted than heard, for she nodded and smiled through 
[ 16 ] 


it stiffening her delicate face the moment after- 
wards to meet the timid remarks of one of her hus- 
band's constituents asked by Sir Hugh in the 
streets that afternoon who happened to present 
her with the next hand to shake. 

Inside, Wharton soon found himself brought up 
against the ex-Secretary of State himself, who greeted 
him cordially, and then bantered him a little on his 
coming motion. 

'Oh, I shall be interested to see what you make of 
it. But, you know, it has no actuality never can 
have till you can agree among yourselves. You say 
you want the same thing I dare say you '11 all swear 
it on Friday but really - 

The statesman shook his head pleasantly. 

'The details are a little vague still, I grant you/ 
said Wharton, smiling. 

'And you think the principle matters twopence 
without the details? I have always found that the 
difficulty with the Christian command, "Be ye per- 
fect." The principle does n't trouble me at all!' 

The swaying of the entering throng parted the two 
speakers, and for a second or two the portly host 
followed with his eye the fair profile and lightly-built 
figure of the younger man as they receded from him 
in the crowd. It was in his mind that the next twenty 
years, whether this man or that turned out to be 
important or no, must see an enormous quickening 
of the political pace. He himself was not conscious of 
any jealousy of the younger men ; but neither did he 
see among them any commanding personality. This 
young fellow, with his vivacity, his energy, and his 


Socialist whims, was interesting enough ; and his pro- 
blem was interesting the problem of whether he 
could make a party out of the heterogeneous group 
of which he was turning out to be indisputably the 
ablest member. But what was there certain or in- 
evitable about his future after all? And it was the 
same with all the rest. Whereas the leaders of the 
past had surely announced themselves beyond mis- 
take from the beginning. He was inclined to think, 
however, that we were levelling up rather than level- 
ling down. The world grew too clever, and leadership 
was more difficult every day. 

Meanwhile Wharton found his progress through 
these stately rooms extremely pleasant. He was as- 
tonished at the multitude of people he knew, at the 
number of faces that smiled upon him. Presently, 
after half an hour of hard small talk, he found himself 
for a moment without an acquaintance, leaning against 
an archway between two rooms, and free to watch the 
throng. Self-love, 'that forward presence, like a 
chattering child within us/ was all alert and happy. 
A feeling of surprise, too, which had not yet worn 
away. A year before he had told Marcella Boyce, and 
with conviction, that he was an outcast from his 
class. He smiled now at that past naivete which had 
allowed him to take the flouts of his country neigh- 
bours and his mother's unpopularity with her aristo- 
cratic relations for an index of the way in which 
'society' in general would be likely to treat him and 
his opinions. He now knew, on the contrary, that those 
opinions had been his best advertisement. Few people, 
it appeared, were more in demand among the great 
[ 18 ] 


than those who gave it out that they would, if they 
could, abolish the great. 

' It 's because they 're not enough afraid of us yet/ 
he said to himself, not without spleen. 'When we 
really get to business if we ever do I shall not 
be coming to Lady Cradock's parties/ 

'Mr. Wharton, do you ever do such a frivolous thing 
as go to the theatre?' said a pretty, languishing crea- 
ture at his elbow, the wife of a London theatrical 
manager. 'Suppose you come and see us in The 
Minister's Wooing, first night next Saturday. I've 
got one seat in my box, for somebody very agreeable. 
Only it must be somebody who can appreciate my 

'I should be charmed,' said Wharton. 'Are the 
frocks so adorable?' 

'Adorable! Then I may write you a note? You 
don't have your horrid Parliament that night, do 
you?' and she fluttered on. 

'I think you don't know my younger daughter, 
Mr. Wharton?' said a severe voice at his elbow. 

He turned and saw an elderly matron with the usual 
matronly cap and careworn countenance putting for- 
ward a young thing in white, to whom he bowed with 
great ceremony. The lady was the wife of a North- 
country magnate of very old family, and one of the 
most exclusive of her kind in London. The daughter, 
a vision of young shyness and bloom, looked at him 
with frightened eyes as he leant against the wall beside 
her and began to talk. She wished he would go away 
and let her get to the girl friend who was waiting 
for her and signalling to her across the room. But in 
[ 19 ] 


a minute or two she had forgotten to wish anything 
of the kind. The mixture of audacity with a perfect 
self-command in the manner of her new acquaintance, 
that searching, half-mocking look, which saw every- 
thing in detail, and was always pressing beyond the 
generalisations of talk and manners, the lightness and 
brightness of the whole aspect, of the curls, the eyes, 
the flexible, determined mouth, these things arrested 
her. She began to open her virgin heart, first in pro- 
testing against attack, then in confession, till in ten 
minutes her white breast was heaving under the ex- 
citement of her own temerity and Wharton knew 
practically all about her, her mingled pleasure and 
remorse in 'going out/ her astonishment at the differ- 
ence between the world as it was this year, and the 
world as it had been last, when she was still in the 
school-room her Sunday-school her brothers 
her ideals for she was a little nun at heart her 
favourite clergyman and all the rest of it. 

' I say, Wharton, come and dine, will you, Thursday, 
at the House small party meet in my room?' 

So said one of the party whips, from behind into 
his ear. The speaker was a popular young aristocrat 
who in the preceding year had treated the member 
for West Brookshire with chilliness. Wharton turned 
to consider a moment then gave a smiling assent. 

'All right 1 / said the other, withdrawing his hand 
from Wharton 's shoulder 'good -night ! two more 
of these beastly crushes to fight through till I can get 
to my bed, worse luck ! Are any of your fellows here 

Wharton shook his head. 

[ 20 ] 


'Too austere, I suppose?' 

'A question of dress-coats, I should think/ said 
Wharton, dryly. The other shrugged his shoulders. 

'And this calls itself a party gathering in a rad- 
ical and democratic house what a farce it all is ! ' 

'Agreed! good -night/ 

And Wharton moved on, just catching as he did so 
the eyes of his new girl acquaintance looking back at 
him from a distant door. Their shy owner withdrew 
them instantly, coloured, and passed out of sight. 

At the same moment a guest entered by the same 
door, a tall grave man in the prime of life, but already 
grey -haired. Wharton, to his surprise, recognised 
Aldous Raeburn, and saw also that the master of the 
house had him by the arm. They came towards him, 
talking. The crowd prevented him from getting effect- 
ually out of their way, but he turned aside and took 
up a magazine lying on a bookcase near. 

'And you really think him a trifle better?' said the 

' Oh, yes, better certainly better but I am 
afraid he will hardly get back to work this session 
the doctors talk of sending him away at once.' 

'Ah, well,' said the other, smiling, 'we don't intend 
it seems to let you send anything important up to the 
Lords yet a while, so there will be time for him to 

'I wish I was confident about the recruiting,' said 
Raeburn, sadly. 'He has lost much strength. I shall 
go with them to the Italian lakes at the end of next 
week, see them settled and come back at once.' 

'Shall you miss a sitting of the Commission?' asked 


his host. Both he and Raeburn were members of an 
important Labour Commission appointed the year 
before by the new Conservative Government. 

'Hardly, I think/ said Raeburn; 'I am particularly 
anxious not to miss D 's evidence/ 

And they fell talking a little about the Commission 
and the witnesses recently examined before it. Whar- 
ton, who was wedged in by a group of ladies, and could 
not for the moment move, heard most of what they 
were saying, much against his will. Moreover Rae- 
burn 's tone of quiet and masterly familiarity with 
what he and his companion were discussing annoyed 
him. There was nothing in the world that he himself 
would more eagerly have accepted than a seat on that 

'Ah! there is Lady Cradock!' said Raeburn, per- 
ceiving his hostess across a sea of intervening faces, 
and responding to her little wave of the hand. 'I 
must go and get a few words with her, and then take 
my aunt away/ 

As he made his way towards her, he suddenly 
brushed against Wharton, who could not escape. Rae- 
burn looked up, recognised the man he had touched, 
flushed slightly, and passed on. A bystander would 
have supposed them strangers to each other. 


Two or three minutes later, Wharton was walking 
down a side street towards Piccadilly. After all the 
flattering incidents of the evening, the chance meeting 
with which it concluded had jarred unpleasantly. Con- 
found the fellow! Was he the first man in the world 
who had been thrown over by a girl because he had 
been discovered to be a tiresome pedant? For even 
supposing Miss Boyce had described that little scene 
in the library a,t Mellor to her fiance at the moment of 
giving him his dismissal and the year before, by the 
help of all the news that reached him about the broken 
engagement, by the help still more of the look, or 
rather the entire absence of look wherewith Raeburn 
had walked past his greeting and his outstretched 
hand in a corridor of the House, on the first occasion 
of their meeting after the news had become public 
property, Wharton was inclined to think she had 
what then? No doubt the stern moralist might have 
something to say on the subject of taking advantage 
of a guest's position to tamper with another man's 
betrothed. If so, the stern moralist would only show 
his usual incapacity to grasp the actual facts of flesh 
and blood. What chance would he or any one else 
have had with Marcella Boyce, if she had happened 
to be in love with the man she had promised to marry? 
That little trifle had been left out in the arrangement. 
It might have worked through perfectly well without; 
[ 23 ] 


as it happened it had broken down. Realities had 
broken it down. Small blame to them ! 

'I stood for truth!' he said to himself with a kind 
of rage 'that moment when I held her in the library, 
she lived. Raeburn offered her a platform, a posi- 
tion ; 7 made her think, and feel. I helped her to know 
herself. Our relation was not passion; it stood on 
the threshold but it was real a true relation so 
far as it went. That it went no farther was due again 
to circumstances realities of another kind. That 
he should scorn and resent my performance at Mellor 
is natural enough. If we were in France he would 
call me out and I should give him satisfaction with 
all the pleasure in life. But what am I about? Are 
his ways mine? I should have nothing left but to 
shoot myself to-morrow if they were ! ' 

He walked on swiftly,* angrily rating himself for 
those symptoms of a merely false and conventional 
conscience which were apt to be roused in him by 
contact with Aldous Raeburn. 

' Has he not interfered with my freedom stamped 
his pedantic foot on me ever since we were boys 
together ! I have owed him one for many years - 
now I have paid it. Let him take the chances of war !' 

Then, driven on by an irritation not to be quieted, 
he began against his will to think of those various 
occasions on which he and Aldous Raeburn had 
crossed each other in the past of that incident in 
particular which Miss Raeburn had roughly recalled 
to Lady Winterbourne's reluctant memory. 

Well, and what of it? It had occurred when Whar- 
ton was a lad of twenty-one, and during an interval 
[ 24 ] 


of some months when Aldous Raeburn, who had left 
Cambridge some three years before, and was already 
the man of importance, had shown a decided disposi- 
tion to take up the brilliant, unmanageable boy, whom 
the Levens, among other relations, had already washed 
their hands of. 

'What did he do it for?' thought Wharton. 'Phil- 
anthropic motives of course. He is one of the men 
who must always be saving their souls, and the black 
sheep of the world come in handy for the purpose. 
I remember I was flattered then. It takes one some 
time to understand the workings of the Hebraistic 
conscience ! ' 

Yes as it galled him to recollect he had shown 
great plasticity for a time. He was then in the middle 
of his Oxford years, and Raeburn 's letters and Rae- 
burn 's influence had certainly pulled him through 
various scrapes that might have been disastrous. 
Then a little later he could see the shooting- 
lodge on the moors above Loch Etive, where he and 
Raeburn, Lord Maxwell, Miss Raeburn, and a small 
party had spent the August of his twenty-first birth- 
day. Well that surly keeper, and his pretty wife 
who had been Miss Raeburn 's maid could anything 
be more inevitable? A hard and jealous husband, and 
one of the softest, most sensuous natures that ever 
idleness made love to. The thing was in the air ! - 
in the summer, in the blood as little to be resisted 
as the impulse to eat when you are hungry, or drink 
when you thirst. Besides, what particular harm had 
been done, what particular harm could have been 
done with such a Cerberus of a husband? As to the 
[ 25 ] 


outcry which had followed one special incident, nothing 
could have been more uncalled for, more superfluous. 
Aldous had demanded contrition, had said strong 
things with the flashing eyes, the set mouth of a 
Cato. And the culprit had turned obstinate would 
repent nothing not for the asking. Everything was 
arguable, and Kenan's doubt as to whether he or 
Theophile Gautier were in the right of it, would re- 
main a doubt to all time that was all Raeburn 
could get out of him. After which the Hebraist friend 
of course had turned his back on the offender, and 
there was an end of it. 

That incident, however, had belonged to a stage in 
his past life, a stage marked by a certain prolonged 
tumult of the senses, on which he now looked back 
with great composure. That tumult had found vent 
in other adventures more emphatic a good deal than 
the adventure of the keeper's wife. He believed that 
one or two of them had been not unknown to Raeburn. 

Well, that was done with ! His mother's death - 
that wanton stupidity on the part of fate and the 
shock it had somehow caused him, had first drawn 
him out of the slough of a cheap and facile pleasure 
on which he now looked back with contempt. After- 
wards, his two years of travel, and the joys at once 
virile and pure they had brought with them, joys of 
adventure, bodily endurance, discovery, together with 
the intellectual stimulus which comes of perpetual 
change, of new heavens, new seas, new societies, had 
loosened the yoke of the flesh and saved him from him- 
self. The deliverance so begun had been completed 
at home, by the various chances and opportunities 
[26 ] 


which had since opened to him a solid and tempting 
career in that Labour Movement his mother had linked 
him with, without indeed ever understanding either 
its objects or its men. The attack on capital now de- 
veloping on all sides, the planning of the vast cam- 
paign, and the handling of its industrial troops, these 
things had made the pursuit of women look insipid, 
coupled as they were with the thrill of increasing 
personal success. Passion would require to present 
itself in new forms, if it was now to take possession of 
him again. 

As to his relation to Raeburn, he well remembered 
that when, after that long break in his life, he and 
Aldous had met casually again, in London or else- 
where, Aldous had shown a certain disposition to 
forget the old quarrel, and to behave with civility, 
though not with friendliness. As to Wharton he was 
quite willing, though at the same time he had gone 
down to contest West Brookshire, and, above all, had 
found himself in the same house as Aldous Raeburn 's 
betrothed, with an even livelier sense than usual of 
the excitement to be got out of mere living. 

No doubt when Raeburn heard that story of the 
library if he had heard it he recognised in it 
the man and the character he had known of old, and 
had shrunk from the connexion of both with Marcella 
Boyce in bitter and insurmountable disgust. A mere 
Hebraist's mistake ! 

'That girl's attraction for me was not an attraction 

of the senses except so far that for every normal 

man and woman charm is charm, and ginger is hot in 

the mouth and always will be! What I played for 

[ 27 ] 


with her was power -power over a nature that 
piqued and yet by natural affinity belonged to me. I 
could not have retained that power, as it happened, 
by any bait of passion. Even without the Hurd affair, 
if I had gone on to approach her so, her whole moral 
nature would have risen against me and her own 
treachery. I knew that perfectly well, and took the 
line I did because for the moment the game was too 
exciting, too interesting, to give up. For the moment ! 
then a few days a few weeks later - Good Lord ! 
what stuff we mortals be!' 

And he raised his shoulders, mocking, yet by no 
means disliking his own idiosyncrasies. It had been 
strange, indeed, that complete change of mental em- 
phasis, that alteration of spiritual axis that had 
befallen him within the first weeks of his parliament- 
ary life, nay, even before the Hurd agitation was 
over. That agitation had brought him vigorously and 
profitably into public notice at a convenient moment. 
But what had originally sprung from the impulse to 
retain a hold over a woman, became in the end the 
instrument of a new and quite other situation. Whar- 
ton had no sooner entered the House of Commons 
than he felt himself strangely at home there. He had 
the instinct for debate, the instinct for management, 
together with a sensitive and contriving ambition. He 
found himself possessed for the moment of powers of 
nervous endurance that astonished him a patience 
of boredom besides, a capacity for drudgery, and for 
making the best of dull men. The omens were all 
favourable, sometimes startlingly so. He was no longer 
hampered by the ill-will of a county or a family con- 
[ 28 ] 


nexion. Here in this new world, every man counted 
strictly for what, in the parliamentary sense, he was 
worth. Wharton saw that, owing to his public appear- 
ances during the two preceding years, he was noticed, 
listened to, talked about in the House, from the first ; 
and that his position in the newly-formed though still 
loosely -bound Labour party was one of indefinite 
promise. The anxieties and pitfalls of the position only 
made it the more absorbing. 

The quick, elastic nature adjusted itself at once. 
To some kinds of success, nothing is so important as 
the ability to forget to sweep the mind free of 
everything irrelevant and superfluous. MarcellaBoyce, 
and all connected with her, passed clean out of Whar- 
ton 's consciousness. Except that once or twice he said 
to himself with a passing smile that it was a good 
thing he had not got himself into a worse scrape at 
Mellor. Good Heavens ! in what plight would a man 
stand a man with his career to make who had 
given Marcella Boyce claims upon him! As well en- 
tangle one's self with the Tragic Muse at once as with 
that stormy, unmanageable soul ! 

So much for a year ago. To-night, however, the 
past had been thrust back upon him, both by Lady 
Selina's talk and by the meeting with Raeburn. To 
smart indeed once more under that old ascendency 
of Raeburn 's, was to be provoked into thinking of 
Raeburn 's old love. 

Where was Miss Boyce? Surely her year of hospital 
training must be up by now? 

He turned into St. James's Street, stopped at a door 
not far from the Palace end, let himself in, and groped 
[ 29 ] 


his way to the second floor. A sleepy man-servant 
turned out of his room, and finding that his master 
was not inclined to go to bed, brought lights and 
mineral water. Wharton was practically a teetotaler. 
He had taken a whim that way as a boy, and a few 
experiments in drunkenness which he had made at 
college had only confirmed what had been originally 
perhaps a piece of notoriety-hunting. He had, as a 
rule, flawless health ; and the unaccustomed headaches 
and nausea which followed these occasional excesses 
had disgusted and deterred him. He shook himself 
easily free of a habit which had never gained a hold 
upon him, and had ever since found his abstinence 
a source both of vanity and of distinction. Nothing 
annoyed him more than to hear it put down to any 
ethical motive. ' If I liked the beastly stuff, I should 
swim in it to-morrow/ he would say, with an angry 
eye when certain acquaintance not those he made 
at Labour Congresses goaded him on the point. ' As 
it is, why should I make it, or chloral, or morphia, or 
any other poison, my master! What's the induce- 
ment eh, you fellows?' 

En revanche he smoked inordinately. 

'Is that all, sir/ said his servant, pausing behind 
his chair, after candles, matches, cigarettes, and Apol- 
linaris had been supplied in abundance. 

'Yes ; go to bed, Williams, but don't lock up. Good- 

The man departed, and Wharton, going to the 

window which opened on a balcony looking over St. 

James's Street, threw it wide and smoked a cigarette 

leaning against the wall. It was on the whole a fine 

[ 30 ] 


night and warm, though the nip of the east wind was 
not yet out of the air. In the street below there was 
still a good deal of movement, for it was only just past 
midnight and the clubs were not yet empty. To his 
right the turreted gate-house of the Palace with its 
clock rose dark against a sky covered with light, 
windy cloud. Beyond it his eye sought instinctively 
for the Clock Tower, which stood to-night dull and 
beaconless like some one in a stupid silence. That 
light of the sitting House had become to him one of 
the standing pleasures of life. He had never yet been 
honestly glad of its extinction. 

'I'm a precious raw hand/ he confessed to himself 
with a shake of the head as he stood there smoking. 
'And it can't last nothing does/ 

Presently he laid down his cigarette a moment on 
the edge of the balcony, and,, coming back into the 
room, opened a drawer, searched a little, and finally 
took out a letter. He stooped over the lamp to read 
it. It was the letter which Marcella Boyce had written 
him some two or three days after the breach of her 
engagement. That fact was barely mentioned at the 
beginning of it, without explanation or comment of 
any kind. Then the letter continued : 

'I have never yet thanked you as I ought for all 
that you have done and attempted through these 
many weeks. But for them it must have been plain 
to us both that we could never rightly meet again. 
I am very destitute just now and I cling to self- 
respect as though it were the only thing left me. 
But that scene in the past, which put us both wrong 
with honour and conscience, has surely been wiped 
[ 31 ] 


out thought suffered away. I feel that I dare 
now say to you, as I would to any other co-worker 
and co-thinker if in the future you ever want my 
work, if you can set me, with others, to any task that 
wants doing and that I could do ask me, and I am 
not likely to refuse. 

'But for the present I am going quite away into 
another world. I have been more ill than I have ever 
been in my life this last few days, and they are all, 
even my father, ready to agree with me that I must 
go. As soon as I am a little stronger I am to have 
a year's training at a London hospital, and then I 
shall probably live for a while in town and nurse. This 
scheme occurred to me as I came back with the wife 
from seeing Hurd the day before the execution. I 
knew then that all was over for me at Mellor. 

'As for the wretched break-down of everything 
of all my schemes and friendships here I had 
better not speak of it. I feel that I have given these 
village-folk, whom I had promised to help, one more 
reason to despair of life. It is not pleasant to carry 
such a thought away with one. But if the tool breaks 
and blunts, how can the task be done? It can be of 
no use till it has been reset. 

'I should like to know how your plans prosper. But 
I shall see your paper and follow what goes on in 
Parliament. For the present I want neither to write 
nor get letters. They tell me that as a probationer I 
shall spend my time at first in washing glasses, and 
polishing bath-taps, on which my mind rests ! 

'If you come across my friends of whom I have 
spoken to you Louis, Anthony, and Edith Craven 
[ 32 ] 


- and could make any use of Louis for the Labour 
Clarion, I should be grateful. I hear they have had bad 
times of late, and Louis has engaged himself, and 
wants to be married. You remember I told you how 
we worked at the South Kensington classes together, 
and how they made me a Venturist? 

' Yours very truly, 


Wharton laid down the letter, making a wry mouth 
over some of its phrases. 

' "Put us both wrong with honour and conscience." 
"One more reason for despair of life" " All was over 
for me at Mellor" dear! dear! how women like 
the big words the emphatic pose. All those little 
odds and ends of charities that absurd straw-plait- 
ing scheme! Well, perhaps one could hardly expect 
her to show a sense of humour just then. But why 
does Nature so often leave it out in these splendid 

'Hullo!' he added, as he bent over the table to 
look for a pen; 'why did n't that idiot give me these?' 

For there, under an evening paper which he t had 
not touched, lay a pile of unopened letters. His servant 
had forgotten to point them out to him. On the top 
was a letter on which Wharton pounced at once. It 
was addressed in a bold inky hand, and he took it to 
be from Nehemiah Wilkins, M.P., his former colleague 
at the Birmingham Labour Congress, of late a mem- 
ber of the Labour Clarion staff, and as such a daily 
increasing plague and anxiety to the Clarion's pro- 

[ 33 ] 


However, the letter was not from Wilkins. It was 
from the secretary of a Midland trades-union, with 
whom Wharton had already been in communication. 
The union was recent, and represented the as yet 
feeble organisation of a metal industry in process 
of transition from the home-workshop to the full 
factory, or Great Industry stage. The conditions of 
work were extremely bad, and grievances many; 
wages were low, and local distress very great. The 
secretary, a young man of ability and enthusiasm, 
wrote to Wharton to say that certain alterations in the 
local 'payment lists' lately made by the employers 
amounted to a reduction of wages ; that the workers, 
beginning to feel the heartening effects of their union, 
were determined not to submit; that bitter and even 
desperate agitation was spreading fast, and that a 
far-reaching strike was imminent. Could they count 
on the support of the Clarion? The Clarion had al- 
ready published certain letters on the industry from 
a Special Commissioner letters which had drawn 
public attention, and had been eagerly read in the 
district itself. Would the Clarion now 'go in' for 
them? Would Mr. Wharton personally support them, 
in or out of Parliament, and get his friends to do the 
same? To which questions, couched in terms ex- 
tremely flattering to the power of the Clarion and 
its owner, the secretary appended a long and technical 
statement of the situation. 

Wharton looked up from the letter with a kindling 

eye. He foresaw an extremely effective case, both 

for the newspaper and the House of Commons. One 

of the chief capitalists involved was a man called 

[ 34 ] 


Denny, who had been long in the House, for whom 
the owner of the Clarion entertained a strong personal 
dislike. Denny had thwarted him vexatiously had 
perhaps even made him ridiculous on one or two 
occasions; and Wharton saw no reason whatever for 
forgiving one's enemies until, like Narvaez, one had 
'shot them all.' There would be much satisfaction in 
making Denny understand who were his masters. And 
with these motives there mingled a perfectly genuine 
sympathy with the 'poor devils' in question, and a 
desire to see them righted. 

'Somebody must be sent down at once/ he said to 
himself. 'I suppose/ he added, with discontent, 'it 
must be Wilkins.' 

For the man who had written the articles for the 
Labour Clarion, as Special Commissioner, had some 
three weeks before left England to take command of 
a colonial newspaper. 

Still pondering, he took up the other letters, turned 
them over childishly pleased for the thousandth 
time by the M.P. on each envelope and the number 
and variety of his correspondence and eagerly chose 
out three one from his bankers, one from his Lin- 
colnshire agent, and one from the Clarion office, un- 
doubtedly this time in Wilkins 's hand. 

He read them, grew a little pale, swore under his 
breath, and, angrily flinging the letters away from 
him, he took up his cigarette again and thought. 

The letter from his bankers asked his attention in 
stiff terms to a largely overdrawn account, and en- 
tirely declined to advance a sum of money for which 
he had applied to them without the guarantee of two 
[ 35 ] 


substantial names in addition to his own. The letter 
from his agent warned him that the extraordinary 
drought of the past six weeks, together with the 
general agricultural depression, would certainly mean 
a large remission of rents at the June quarter-day, and 
also informed him that the holders of his co-operat- 
ive farm would not be able to pay their half-yearly 
interest on the capital advanced to them by the land- 

As to the third letter, it was in truth much more 
serious than the two others. Wilkins, the passionate 
and suspicious workman, of great natural ability, 
who had been in many ways a thorn in Wharton 's 
side since the beginning of his public career, was now 
member for a mining constituency. His means of 
support were extremely scanty, and at the opening 
of the new Parliament Wharton had offered him 
well-paid work on the Clarion newspaper. It had 
seemed to the proprietor of the Clarion a way of 
attaching a dangerous man to himself, perhaps also 
of controlling him. Wilkins had grudgingly accepted, 
understanding perfectly well what was meant. 

Since then the relation between the two men had 
been one of perpetual friction. Wilkins's irritable 
pride would yield nothing, either in the House or in 
the Clarion office, to Wharton 's university education 
and class advantages, while Wharton watched with 
alarm the growing influence of this insubordinate and 
hostile member of his own staff on those Labour 
circles from which the Clarion drew its chief support. 

In the letter he had just read Wilkins announced 
to the proprietor of the Clarion that in consequence 
[ 36 ] 


of the 'scandalous mismanagement' of that paper's 
handling of a certain trade arbitration which had just 
closed, he, Wilkins, could no longer continue to write 
for it, and begged to terminate his engagement at 
once, there being no formal agreement between him- 
self and Wharton as to length of notice on either side. 
A lively attack on the present management and future 
prospects of the Clarion followed, together with the 
threat that the writer would do what in him lay 
henceforward to promote the cause of a certain rival 
organ lately started, among such working-men as he 
might be able to influence. 

'Brute! jealous, impracticable brute!' exclaimed 
Wharton, aloud, as he stood chafing and smoking by 
the window. All the difficulties which this open breach 
was likely to sow in his path stood out before him in 
clear relief. 

'Personal leadership, there is the whole problem,' 
he said to himself in moody despair. ' Can I like 
Parnell make a party and keep it together? Can 
I through the Clarion and through influence outside 
the House coerce the men in the House? If so, 
we can do something, and Lady Cradock will no longer 
throw me her smiles. If not, the game is up, both for 
me and for them. They have no cohesion, no common 
information, no real power. Without leaders they are 
a mere set of half-educated firebrands whom the 
trained mind of the country humours because it must, 
and so far as they have brute force behind them. 
Without leadership, 7 am a mere unit of the weakest 
group in the House. Yet, by Jove ! it looks as though 
I had not the gifts/ 

[ 37 ] 


And he looked back with passionate chagrin on the 
whole course of his connexion with Wilkins, his un- 
availing concessions and small humiliations, his belief 
in his own tact and success, all the time that the man 
dealt with was really slipping out of his hands. 

' Damn the fellow ! ' he said at last, flinging his cigar- 
ette away. 'Well, that's done with. All the same, he 
would have liked that Midland job! He has been 
hankering after a strike there for some time, and 
might have ranted as he pleased. I shall have the 
satisfaction of informing him he has lost his oppor- 
tunity. Now then who to send? By Jove! what 
about Miss Boyce's friend?' 

He stood a moment twisting the quill-pen he had 
taken up, then he hastily found a sheet of paper and 

Dear Miss Boyce, It is more than a year since 
I have heard of you, and I have been wondering with 
much interest lately whether you have really taken 
up a nursing life. You remember speaking to me of 
your friends the Cravens? I come across them some- 
times at the Venturist meetings, and have always 
admired their ability. Last year I could do nothing 
practical to meet your wishes. This year, however, 
there is an opening on the Clarion, and I should like 
to discuss it with you. Are you in town or to be 
found? I could come any afternoon next week, early 
I go down to the House at four or on Saturdays. 
But I should like it to be Tuesday or Wednesday, that 
I might try and persuade you to come to our Eight 
Hours debate on Friday night. It would interest you, 
[ 38 ] 


and I think I could get you a seat. We Labour mem- 
bers are like the Irishmen we can always get our 
friends in. 

I must send this round by Mellor, so it may not 
reach you till Tuesday. Perhaps you will kindly tele- 
graph. The Clarion matter is pressing. 
Yours sincerely, 


When he had finished he lingered a moment over 
the letter, the play of conflicting motives and memories 
bringing a vague smile to the lips. 

Reverie, however, was soon dispersed. He recol- 
lected his other correspondents, and springing up he 
began to pace his room, gloomily thinking over his 
money difficulties, which were many. He and his 
mother had always been in want of money ever since 
he could remember. Lady Mildred would spend huge 
sums on her various crotchets and campaigns, and 
then subside for six months into wretched lodgings 
in a back street of Southsea or Worthing, while the 
Suffolk house was let, and her son mostly went abroad. 
This perpetual worry of needy circumstances had al- 
ways, indeed, sat lightly on Wharton. He was un- 
married, and so far scarcity had generally passed into 
temporary comfort before he had time to find it in- 
tolerable. But now the whole situation was becoming 
more serious. In the first place, his subscriptions and 
obligations as a member of Parliament, and as one 
of the few propertied persons in a moneyless move- 
ment, were considerable. Whatever Socialism might 
make of money in the future, he was well aware that 
[ 39 ] 


money in the present was no less useful to a Socialist 
politician than to any one else. In the next place, the 
starting and pushing of the Clarion newspaper - 
originally purchased by the help of a small legacy 
from an uncle had enormously increased the scale 
of his money transactions and the risks of life. 

How was it that, with all his efforts, the Clarion 
was not making, but losing money? During the three 
years he had possessed it he had raised it from the 
position of a small and foul-mouthed print, indiffer- 
ently nourished on a series of small scandals, to that 
of a Labour organ of some importance. He had written 
a weekly signed article for it, which had served from 
the beginning to bring both him and the paper into 
notice ; he had taken pains with the organisation and 
improvement of the staff; above all, he had spent a 
great deal more money upon it, in the way of premises 
and appliances, than he had been, as it turned out, 
in any way justified in spending. 

Hence, indeed, these tears. Rather more than a 
year before, while the Clarion was still enjoying a first 
spurt of success and notoriety, he had, with a certain 
recklessness which belonged to his character, invested 
in new and costly machinery, and had transferred the 
paper to larger offices. All this had been done on 
borrowed money. 

Then, for some reason or other, the Clarion had 
ceased to answer to the spur had, indeed, during 
the past eight months been flagging heavily. The 
outside world was beginning to regard the Clarion as 
an important paper. Wharton knew all the time that 
its advertisements were falling off, and its circulation 
[ 40 ] 


declining. Why? Who can say? If it is true that 
books have their fates, it is still more true of news- 
papers. Was it that a collectivist paper the rival 
organ mentioned by Wilkins recently started by a 
group of young and outrageously clever Venturists 
and more closely in touch than the Clarion with two 
or three of the great unions, had filched the Clarion's 
ground ? Or was it simply that, as Wharton put it to 
himself in moments of rage and despondency, the 
majority of working-men 'are either sots or block- 
heads, and will read and support nothing but the low 
racing or police-court news, which is all their intel- 
ligences deserve?' Few people had at the bottom of 
their souls a more scornful distrust of the 'masses' 
than the man whose one ambition at the present 
moment was to be the accepted leader of English 

Finally, his private expenditure had always been 
luxurious ; and he was liable, it will be seen, to a kind 
of debt that is not easily kept waiting. On the whole, 
his bankers had behaved to him with great indulgence. 

He fretted and fumed, turning over plan after plan 
as he walked, his curly head sunk in his shoulders, his 
hands behind his back. Presently he stopped ab- 
sently in front of the inner wall of the room, where, 
above a heavy rosewood bookcase, brought from his 
Lincolnshire house, a number of large framed photo- 
graphs were hung close together. 

His eye caught one and brightened. With an im- 
patient gesture, like that of a reckless boy, he flung 
his thoughts away from him. 

'If ever the game becomes too tiresome here, why, 
[ 41 ] 


the next steamer will take me out of it! What a 
gorgeous time we had on that glacier ! ' 

He stood looking at a splendid photograph of a 
glacier in the Thibetan Himalayas, where, in the year 
following his mother's death, he had spent four months 
with an exploring party. The plate had caught the 
very grain and glisten of the snow, the very sheen 
and tint of the ice. He could feel the azure of the sky, 
the breath of the mountain wind. The man seated 
on the ladder over that bottomless crevasse was him- 
self. And there were the guides, two from Chamounix, 
one from Grindelwald, and that fine young fellow, 
the son of the elder Chamounix guide, whom they 
had lost by a stone-shower on that nameless peak 
towering to the left of the glacier. Ah, those had been 
years of life, those Wanderjahre! He ran over the 
photographs with a kind of greed, his mind meanwhile 
losing itself in covetous memories of foamy seas, of 
long, low, tropical shores with their scattered palms, 
of superb rivers sweeping with sound and fury round 
innumerable islands, of great buildings ivory white 
amid the wealth of creepers which had pulled them 
into ruin, vacant now for ever of the voice of man, 
and ringed by untrodden forests. 

'"Better fifty years of Europe than a cycle of 
Cathay,"' he thought. 'Ah! but how much did the 
man who wrote that know about Cathay?' 

And with his hands thrust into his pockets, he 
stood lost a while in a flying dream that defied civilisa- 
tion and its cares. How well, how indispensable to 
remember, that beyond these sweltering streets where 
we choke and swarm, Cathay stands always waiting! 
[ 42 ] 


Someivhere, while we toil in the gloom and the crowd, 
there is air, there is sea, the joy of the sun, the life 
of the body, so good, so satisfying ! This interminable 
ethical or economical battle, these struggles, selfish 
or altruistic, in which we shout ourselves hoarse to no 
purpose why ! they could be shaken off at a mo- 
ment's notice ! 

' However' --he turned on his heel 'suppose we 
try a few other trifles first. What time? those fellows 
won't have gone to bed yet!' 

He took out his watch, then extinguished his 
candles, and made his way to the street. A hundred 
yards or so away from his own door he stopped before 
a well-known fashionable club, extremely small, and 
extremely select, where his mother's brother, the peer 
of the family, had introduced him when he was young 
and tender, and his mother's relations still cherished 
hopes of snatching him as a brand from the burning. 

The front rooms of the club were tolerably full still. 
He passed on to the back. A door-keeper stationed in 
the passage stepped back and silently opened a door. 
It closed instantly behind him, and Wharton found 
himself in a room with some twenty other young 
fellows playing baccarat, piles of shining money on the 
tables, the electric lamps hung over each, lighting 
every detail of the scene with the same searching 
disenchanting glare. 

'I say!' cried a young dark-haired fellow, like a 
dishevelled Lord Byron. 'Here comes the Labour 
leader make room ! ' 

And amid laughter and chaffing he was drawn down 
to the baccarat table, where a new deal was just be- 
[ 43 ] 


ginning. He felt in his pockets for money; his eyes, 
intent and shining, followed every motion of the 
dealer's hand. For three years now, ever since his 
return from his travels, the gambler's passion had been 
stealing on him. Already this season he had lost and 
won on the whole lost large sums. And the fact 
was so far absolutely unknown except to the 
men with whom he played in this room. 


IF yer goin downstairs, Nuss, you'd better take 
that there scuttle with yer, for the coals is gittin low 
an it ull save yer a journey ! ' 

Marcella looked with amusement at her adviser a 
small bandy-legged boy in shirt and knickerbockers, 
with black Jewish eyes in a strongly featured face. 
He stood leaning on the broom he had just been wield- 
ing, his sleeves rolled up to the shoulder showing his 
tiny arms; his expression sharp and keen as a hawk's. 

'Well, Benny, then you look after your mother 
while I 'm gone, and don't let any one in but the 

And Marcella turned for an instant towards the bed 
whereon lay a sick woman too feeble apparently to 
speak or move. 

'I ain't a goin ter,' said the boy, shortly, begin- 
ning to sweep again with energy, 'an if this 'ere baby 
cries, give it the bottle, I s'pose?' 

'No, certainly not,' said Marcella, firmly; 'it has 
just had one. You sweep away, Benny, and let the 
baby alone/ 

Benny looked a trifle wounded, but recovered him- 
self immediately, and ran a general's eye over Marcella 
who was just about to leave the room. 

'Now look 'ere, Nuss,' he said, in a tone of pitying 
remonstrance, 'yer never a-goin down to that 'ere 
coal-cellar without a light. Yer '11 'ave to come runnin 


up all them stairs again sure as I'm alive yer 

And darting to a cupboard he pulled out a grimy 
candlestick with an end of dip and some matches, 
disposed of them at the bottom of the coal-scuttle 
that Marcella carried over her left arm, and then, still 
masterfully considering her, let her go. 

Marcella groped her way downstairs. The house was 
one of a type familiar all over the poorer parts of West 
Central London the eighteenth-century house in- 
habited by law or fashion in the days of Dr. Johnson, 
now parcelled out into insanitary tenements, miserably 
provided with air, water, and all the necessaries of 
life, but still showing in its chimney-piece or its decay- 
ing staircase signs of the graceful domestic art which 
had ruled at the building and fitting of it. 

Marcella, however, had no eye whatever at the 
moment for the panelling on the staircase, or the 
delicate ironwork of the broken balustrade. Rather 
it seemed to her, as she looked into some of the half- 
open doors of the swarming rooms she passed, or 
noticed with disgust the dirt and dilapidation of the 
stairs, and the evil smells of the basement, that the 
house added one more to the standing shames of 
the district an opinion doubly strong in her when 
at last she emerged from her gropings among the dens 
of the lower regions, and began to toil upstairs again 
with her filled kettle and coal-scuttle. 

The load was heavy, even for her young strength, 
and she had just passed a sleepless night. The even- 
ing before she had been sent for in haste to a woman 
in desperate illness. She came, and found a young 
[ 46 ] 


Jewess, with a ten days' old child beside her, strug- 
gling with her husband and two women friends in 
a state of raging delirium. The room was full to suf- 
focation of loud-tongued, large-eyed Jewesses, all tak- 
ing turns at holding the patient, and chattering or 
quarrelling between their turns. It had been Marcella's 
first and arduous duty to get the place cleared, and 
she had done it without ever raising her voice or losing 
her temper for an instant. The noisy pack had been 
turned out ; the most competent woman among them 
chosen to guard the door and fetch and carry for the 
nurse ; while Marcella set to work to wash her patient 
and remake the bed as best she could, in the midst of 
the poor thing's wild shrieks and wrestlings. 

It was a task to test both muscular strength and 
moral force to their utmost. After her year's training 
Marcella took it simply in the day's work. Some hours 
of intense effort and strain ; then she and the husband 
looked down upon the patient, a woman of about six- 
and-twenty, plunged suddenly in narcotic sleep, her 
matted black hair, which Marcella had not dared to 
touch, lying in wild waves on the clean bedclothes 
and night-gear that her nurse had extracted from this 
neighbour and that she could hardly have told how. 

'Ach, mein Gott, mein Gott!' said the husband, rising 
and shaking himself. He was a Jew from German 
Poland, and, unlike most of his race, a huge man, 
with the make and the muscles of a prize-fighter. 
Yet, after the struggle of the last two hours he was 
in a bath of perspiration. 

'You will have to send her to the infirmary if this 
comes on again,' said Marcella. 
[ 47 ] 


The husband stared in helpless misery, first at his 
wife, then at the nurse. 

'You will not go away, Mees?' he implored; 'you 
will not leaf me alone?' 

Wearied as she was, Marcella could have smiled at 
the abject giant. 

'No, I will stay with her till the morning and till the 
doctor comes. You had better go to bed.' 

It was close on three o'clock. The man demurred 
a little, but he was in truth too worn out to resist. He 
went into the back room and lay down with the 

Then Marcella was left through the long summer 
dawn alone with her patient. Her quick ear caught 
every sound about her the heavy breaths of the 
father and children in the back room, the twittering 
of the sparrows, the first cries about the streets, the 
first movements in the crowded house. Her mind all 
the time was running partly on contrivances for pull- 
ing the woman through for it was what a nurse 
calls 'a good case/ one that rouses all her nursing 
skill and faculty partly on the extraordinary mis- 
conduct of the doctor, to whose criminal neglect and 
mismanagement of the case she hotly attributed the 
whole of the woman's illness; and partly in deep, 
swift sinkings of meditative thought on the strange- 
ness of the fact that she should be there at all, sitting 
in this chair in this miserable room, keeping guard over 
this Jewish mother and her child ! 

The year in hospital had rushed dreamless sleep 
by night, exhausting fatigue of mind and body by day. 
A hospital nurse, if her work seizes her, as it had seized 
[ 48 ] 


Marcella, never thinks of herself. Now, for some six 
or seven weeks she had been living in rooms, as a dis- 
trict nurse, under the control of a central office and 
superintendent. Her work lay in the homes of the poor, 
and was of the most varied kind. The life was freer, 
more elastic ; allowed room at last to self -consciousness. 

But now the night was over. The husband had 
gone off to work at a factory near, whence he could 
be summoned at any moment ; the children had been 
disposed of to Mrs. Levi, the helpful neighbour; she 
herself had been home for an hour to breakfast and 
dress, had sent to the office asking that her other cases 
might be attended to, and was at present in sole charge, 
with Benny to help her, waiting for the doctor. 

When she reached the sick-room again with her 
burdens, she found Benjamin sitting pensive, with the 
broom across his knees. 

'Well, Benny!' she said as she entered, 'how have 
you got on?' 

'Yer can't move the dirt on them boards with 
sweepin,' said Benny, looking at them with disgust; 
'an I ain't a goin to try it no more.' 

'You're about right there, Benny,' said Marcella, 
mournfully, as she inspected them; 'well, we'll get 
Mrs. Levi to come in and scrub as soon as your 
mother can bear it.' 

She stepped up to the bed and looked at her patient, 
who seemed to be passing into a state of restless pro- 
stration, more or less under the influence of morphia. 
Marcella fed her with strong beef -tea made by herself 
during the night, and debated whether she should 
[ 49 ] 


give brandy. No either the doctor would come 
directly, or she would send for him. She had not seen 
him yet, and her lip curled at the thought of him. 
He had ordered a nurse the night before, but had 
not stayed to meet her, and Marcella had been obliged 
to make out his instructions from the husband as 
best she could. 

Benny looked up at her with a wink as she went 
back to the fire. 

'I did n't let none o' them in/ he said, jerking his 
thumb over his shoulder. 'They come a-whisperin 
at the door, an a-rattlin ov the handle as soon as 
ever you gone downstairs. But I tole 'em just to 
take theirselves off, an as 'ow you did n't want 'em. 

And taking a crust smeared with treacle out of his 
pocket, Benny returned with a severe air to the suck- 
ing of it. 

Marcella laughed. 

'Clever Benny/ she said, patting his head; 'but 
why are n't you at school, sir?' 

Benjamin grinned. 

"Owd' yer s'pose my ma's goin to git along with- 
out me to do for 'er and the baby?' he replied, slyly. 

'Well, Benny, you'll have the Board officer down 
on you/ 

At this the urchin laughed out. 

'Why, 'ee wor here last week ! 'Ee can't be troublin 
'isself about this 'ere blooming street e^ery day in 
the week/ 

There was a sharp knock at the door. 

'The doctor/ she said, as her face dismissed the 
[ 50 ] 


frolic brightness which had stolen upon it for a mo- 
ment. 'Run away, Benny.' 

Benny opened the door, looked the doctor coolly up 
and down, and then withdrew to the landing, where 
his sisters were waiting to play with him. 

The doctor, a tall man of thirty, with a red, blurred 
face and a fair moustache, walked in hurriedly, and 
stared at the nurse standing by the fire. 

'You come from the St. Martin's Association?' 

Marcella stiffly replied. He took her temperature- 
chart from her hand and asked her some questions 
about the night, staring at her from time to time with 
eyes that displeased her. Presently she came to an 
account of the condition in which she had found her 
patient. The edge on the words, for all their pro- 
fessional quiet, was unmistakeable. She saw him flush. 

He moved towards the bed, and she went with him. 
The woman moaned as he approached her. He set 
about his business with hands that shook. Marcella 
decided at once that he was not sober, and watched 
his proceedings with increasing disgust and amaze- 
ment. Presently she could bear it no longer. 

'I think,' she said, touching his arm, 'that you had 
better leave it to me and go away !' 

He drew himself up with a start which sent the 
things he held flying, and faced her fiercely. 

'What do you mean?' he said; 'don't you know 
your place?' 

The girl was very white, but her eyes were scorn- 
fully steady. 

'Yes I know my place!' 

Then with a composure as fearless as it was scath- 


ing she said what she had to say. She knew and 
he could not deny that he had endangered his 
patient's life. She pointed out that he was in a fair 
way to endanger it again. Every word she said lay 
absolutely within her sphere as a nurse. His cloudy 
brain cleared under the stress of it. 

Then his eyes flamed, his cheeks became purple, 
and Marcella thought for an instant he would have 
struck her. Finally he turned down his shirt-cuffs 
and walked away. 

'You understand/ he said, thickly, turning upon 
her, with his hat in his hand, 'that I shall not attend 
this case again till your Association can send me a 
nurse that will do as she is told without insolence to 
the doctor. I shall now write a report to your super- 

'As you please/ said Marcella, quietly. And she 
went to the door and opened it. 

He passed her, sneering : 

'A precious superior lot you lady-nurses think 
yourselves, I dare say. I 'd sooner have one old Gamp 
than the whole boiling of you!' 

Marcella eyed him sternly, her nostrils tightening. 
'Will you go?' she said. 

He gave her a furious glance, and plunged down 
the stairs outside, breathing threats. 

Marcella put her hand to her head a moment, and 
drew a long breath. There was a certain piteousness 
in the action, a consciousness of youth and strain. 

Then she saw that the landing and the stairs above 
were beginning to fill with dark-haired Jewesses, 
eagerly peering and talking. In another minute or 
[ 52 ] 


two she would be besieged by them. She called 
sharply, 'Benny!' 

Instantly Benny appeared from the landing above, 
elbowing the Jewesses to right and left. 

'What is it you want, Nuss? No, she don't want 
none o' you there!' 

And Benjamin darted into the room, and would 
have slammed the door in all their faces, but that 
Marcella said to him 

'Let in Mrs. Levi, please/ 

The kind neighbour, who had been taking care of 
the children, was admitted, and then the key was 
turned. Marcella scribbled a line on a half -sheet of 
paper, and, with careful directions, dispatched Benny 
with it. 

'I have sent for a new doctor/ she explained, still 
frowning and white, to Mrs. Levi. 'That one was 
not fit.' 

The woman's olive-skinned face lightened all over. 
'Thanks to the Lord!' she said, throwing up her 
hands. 'But how in the world did you do 't, Miss? 
There is n't a single soul in this house that does n't 
go all of a tremble at the sight of 'im. Yet all the 
women has 'im when they 're ill bound to. They 
thinks he must be clever, 'cos he 's such a brute. I do 
believe sometimes it's that. He is a brute!' 

Marcella was bending over her patient, trying so 
far as she could to set her straight and comfortable 
again. But the woman had begun to mutter once 
more words in a strange dialect that Marcella did not 
understand, and could no longer be kept still. The 
temperature was rising again, and another fit of de- 
[ 53 ] 


lirium was imminent. Marcella could only hope that 
she and Mrs. Levi between them would be able to 
hold her till the doctor came. When she had done 
all that was in her power, she sat beside the poor 
tossing creature, controlling and calming her as best 
she could, while Mrs. Levi poured into her shrinking 
ear the story of the woman's illness and of Dr. Blank's 
conduct of it. Marcella's feeling, as she listened, was 
made up of that old agony of rage and pity! The 
sufferings of the poor, because they were poor these 
things often, still, darkened earth and heaven for her. 
That wretch would have been quite capable, no doubt, 
of conducting himself decently and even competently, 
if he had been called to some supposed lady in one 
of the well-to-do squares which made the centre of 
this poor and crowded district. 

'Hullo, Nurse!' said a cheery voice; 'you seem to 
have got a bad case.' 

The sound was as music in Marcella 's ears. The 
woman she held was fast becoming unmanageable - 
had just shrieked, first for 'poison,' then for a 'knife,' 
to kill herself with, and could hardly be prevented by 
the combined strength of her nurse and Mrs. Levi, 
now from throwing herself madly out of bed, and now 
from tearing out her black hair in handfuls. The 
doctor a young Scotchman with spectacles, and 
stubby red beard came quickly up to the bed, asked 
Marcella a few short questions, shrugged his shoulders 
over her dry report of Dr. Blank's proceedings, then 
took out a black case from his pocket, and put his 
morphia syringe together. 

For a long time no result whatever could be ob- 
[ 54 ] 


tained by any treatment. The husband was sent for, 
and came trembling, imploring doctor and nurse, in 
the intervals of his wife's paroxysms, not to leave 
him alone. 

Marcella, absorbed in the tragic horror of the case, 
took no note of the passage of time. Everything that 
the doctor suggested she carried out with a deftness, 
a tenderness, a power of mind, which keenly affected 
his professional sense. Once, the poor mother, left 
unguarded for an instant, struck out with a wild right 
hand. The blow caught Marcella on the cheek, and 
she drew back with a slight involuntary cry. 

'You are hurt/ said Dr. Angus, running up to her. 

'No, no/ she said, smiling through the tears that 
the shock had called into her eyes, and putting him 
rather impatiently aside; 'it is nothing. You said 
you wanted some fresh ice/ 

And she went into the back room to get it. 

The doctor stood with his hands in his pockets, 
studying the patient. 

'You will have to send her to the infirmary/ he said 
to the husband ; 'there is nothing else for it.' 

Marcella came back with the ice, and was able to 
apply it to the head. The patient was quieter was, 
in fact, now groaning herself into a fresh period of 

The doctor's sharp eyes took note of the two figures, 
the huddled creature on the pillows and the stately 
head bending over her, with the delicately hollowed 
cheek, whereon the marks of those mad fingers stood 
out red and angry. He had already had experience of 
this girl in one or two other cases. 
[ 55 ] 


'Well/ he said, taking up his hat, 'it is no good 
shilly-shallying. I will go and find Dr. Swift/ Dr. 
Swift was the parish doctor. 

When he had gone, the big husband broke down 
and cried, with his head against the iron of the bed 
close to his wife. He put his great hand on hers, and 
talked to her brokenly in their own patois. They had 
been eight years married, and she had never had a 
day's serious illness till now. Marcella's eyes filled 
with tears as she moved about the room, doing various 
little tasks. 

At last she went up to him. 

'Won't you go and have some dinner?' she said to 
him, kindly. 'There's Benjamin calling you,' and she 
pointed to the door of the back room, where stood 
Benny, his face puckered with weeping, forlornly hold- 
ing out a plate of fried fish, in the hope of attracting 
his father's attention. 

The man, who in spite of his size and strength was 
in truth childishly soft and ductile, went as he was 
bid, and Marcella and Mrs. Levi set about doing what 
they could to prepare the wife for her removal. 

Presently parish doctor and sanitary inspector ap- 
peared, strange and peremptory invaders who did but 
add to the terror and misery of the husband. Then 
at last came the ambulance, and Dr. Angus with it. 
The patient, now once more plunged in narcotic stupor, 
was carried downstairs by two male nurses, Dr. Angus 
presiding. Marcella stood in the doorway and watched 
the scene, the gradual disappearance of the helpless 
form on the stretcher, with its fevered face under the 
dark mat of hair ; the figures of the straining men heav- 
[ 56 ] 


ily descending step by step, their heads and shoulders 
thrown out against the dirty drabs and browns of the 
staircase; the crowd of Jewesses on the stairs and 
landing, craning their necks, gesticulating and talking, 
so that Dr. Angus could hardly make his directions 
heard, angrily as he bade them stand back; and on 
the top stair, the big husband, following the form of 
his departing and unconscious wife with his eyes, his 
face convulsed with weeping, the whimpering children 
clinging about his knees. 

How hot it was ! how stifling the staircase smelt, 
and how the sun beat down from that upper window 
on the towzled, unkempt women with their large-eyed 
children ! 


MARCELLA on her way home turned into a little street 
leading to a great block of model dwellings, which rose 
on the right-hand side and made everything else, the 
mews entrance opposite, the lines of squalid shops on 
either side, look particularly small and dirty. The 
sun was beating fiercely down, and she was sick and 

As she entered the iron gate of the dwellings, and 
saw before her the large asphalted court round which 
they ran blazing heat on one side of it, and on the 
other some children playing cricket against the wall 
with chalk-marks for wickets she was seized with 
depression. The tall yet mean buildings, the smell of 
dust and heat, the general impression of packed and 
crowded humanity these things, instead of offering 
her rest, only continued and accented the sense of 
strain, called for more endurance, more making the 
best of it. 

But she found a tired smile for some of the children 
who ran up to her, and then she climbed the stairs 
of the E block, and opened the door of her own 
tenement, number 10. In number 9 lived Minta Hurd 
and her children, who had joined Marcella in London 
some two months before. In sets 7 and 8, on either 
side of Marcella and the Hurds, lived two widows, 
each with a family, who were mostly out charing 
during the day. 

[ 58 ] 


Marcella's Association allowed its district nurses 
to live outside the 'home' of the district on certain 
conditions, which had been fulfilled in Marcella's case 
by her settlement next door to her old friends in these 
buildings, which were inhabited by a very respectable 
though poor class. Meanwhile the trustees of the 
buildings had allowed her to make a temporary com- 
munication between her room and the Kurds, so that 
she could either live her own solitary and independent 
life, or call for their companionship, as she pleased. 

As she shut her door behind her she found herself 
in a little passage or entry. To the left was her bed- 
room. Straight in front of her was the living-room 
with a small close range in it, and behind it a little 
back kitchen. 

The living-room was cheerful and even pretty. Her 
art -student's training showed itself. The cheap blue- 
and-white paper, the couple of oak flap-tables from 
a broker's shop in Marchmont Street, the two or 
three cane chairs with their bright chintz cushions, 
the Indian rug or two on the varnished boards, the 
photographs and etchings on the walls, the books on 
the tables there was not one of these things that was 
not in its degree a pleasure to her young senses, that 
did not help her to live her life. This afternoon as she 
opened the door and looked in, the pretty colours and 
forms in the tiny room were as water to the thirsty. 
Her mother had sent her some flowers the day before. 
There they were on the tables, great bunches of honey- 
suckles, of bluebells, and Banksia roses. And over 
the mantelpiece was a photograph of the place where 
such flowers as Mellor possessed mostly grew the 
[ 59 ] 


unkempt lawn, the old fountain and grey walls of the 
Cedar Garden. 

The green blind over the one window which looked 
into the court had been drawn down against the 
glare of the sun, as though by a careful hand. Beside 
a light wooden rocking-chair, which was Marcella's 
favourite seat, a tray of tea-things had been put out. 
Marcella drew a long breath of comfort as she put 
down her bag. 

'Now, can I wait for my tea till I have washed and 

She argued with herself an instant as though she 
had been a greedy child, then, going swiftly into the 
back kitchen, she opened the door between her rooms 
and the Hurds. 


A voice responded. 

'Minta, make me some tea and boil an egg! there's 
a good soul! I will be back directly/ 

And in ten minutes or so she came back again into 
the sitting-room, daintily fresh and clean but very 
pale. She had taken off her nurse's dress and apron, 
and put on something loose and white that hung 
about her in cool folds. 

But Minta Hurd, who had just brought in the tea, 
looked at her disapprovingly. 

'Whatever are you so late for?' she asked, a little 
peevishly. 'You'll get ill if you go missing your 

'I could n't help it, Minta, it was such a bad case.' 

Mrs. Hurd poured out the tea in silence, unap- 
peased. Her mind was constantly full of protest 
[ 60 1 


against this nursing. Why should Miss Boyce do such 
'funny things' --why should she live as she did, at 

Their relation to each other was a curious one. Mar- 
cella, knowing that the life of Kurd's widow at Mellor 
was gall and bitterness, had sent for her at the mo- 
ment that she herself was leaving the hospital, offer- 
ing her a weekly sum in return for a little cooking 
and house-service. Minta already possessed a weekly 
pension, coming from a giver unknown to her. It was 
regularly handed to her by Mr. Harden, and she could 
only imagine that one of the 'gentlemen' who had 
belonged to the Kurd Reprieve Committee, and had 
worked so hard for Jim, was responsible for it out of 
pity for her and her children. The payment offered 
her by Miss Boyce would defray the expense of Lon- 
don house-rent, the children's schooling, and leave a 
trifle over. Moreover she was pining to get away from 
Mellor. Her first instinct after her husband's execu- 
tion had been to hide herself from all the world. But 
for a long time her precarious state of health, and her 
dependence first on Marcella, then on Mary Harden, 
made it impossible for her to leave the village. It was 
not till Marcella's proposal came that her way was 
clear. She sold her bits of things at once, took her 
children and went up to Brown's Buildings. 

Marcella met her with the tenderness, the tragic 
tremor of feeling from which the peasant's wife shrank 
anew, bewildered, as she had often shrunk from it in 
the past. Jim's fate had made her an old woman at 
thirty-two. She was now a little shrivelled, consump- 
tive creature with almost white hair, and a face from 
[ 61 ] 


which youth had gone, unless perhaps there were 
some traces of it in the still charming eyes, and small, 
open mouth. But these changes had come upon her 
she knew not why, as the result of blows she felt but 
had never reasoned about. Marcella's fixed mode of 
conceiving her and her story caused her from the 
beginning of their fresh acquaintance a dumb irrita- 
tion and trouble she could never have explained. It 
was so tragic, reflective, exacting. It seemed to ask 
of her feelings that she could not have, to expect from 
her expression that was impossible. And it stood also 
between her and the friends and distractions that she 
would like to have. Why should n't that queer man, 
Mr. Strozzi, who lived down below, and whose name 
she could not pronounce, come and sit sometimes of 
an evening, and amuse her and the children? He was 
a 'Professor of Elocution/ and said and sung comic 
pieces. He was very civil and obliging too; she liked 
him. Yet Miss Boyce was evidently astonished that 
she could make friends with him, and Minta perfectly 
understood the lift of her dark eyebrows whenever 
she came in and found him sitting there. 

Meanwhile Marcella had expected her with emotion, 
and had meant through this experiment to bring her- 
self truly near to the poor. Minta must not call her 
Miss Boyce, but by her name ; which, however, Minta, 
reddening, had declared she could never do. Her 
relation to Marcella was not to be that of servant in 
any sense, but of friend and sister; and on her and 
her children Marcella had spent from the beginning 
a number of new womanish wiles which, strangely 
enough, this hard, strenuous life had been developing 


in her. She would come and help put the children to 
bed ; she would romp with them in their night-gowns ; 
she would bend her imperious head over the anxious 
endeavour to hem a pink cotton pinafore for Daisy, 
or dress a doll for the baby. But the relation jarred 
and limped perpetually, and Marcella wistfully thought 
it her fault. 

Just now, however, as she sat gently swaying back- 
wards and forwards in the rocking-chair, enjoying 
her tea, her mood was one of nothing but content. 

' Oh, Minta, give me another cup. I want to have a 
sleep so badly, and then I am going to see Miss Hallin, 
and stay to supper with them/ 

'Well, you mustn't go out in them nursin things 
again/ said Minta, quickly ; ' I've put you in some lace 
in your black dress, an it looks beautiful/ 

'Oh, thank you, Minta; but that black dress always 
seems to me too smart to walk about these streets in/ 

'It's just nice/ said Minta, with decision. 'It's just 
what everybody that knows you what your mamma 
would like to see you in. I can't abide them nursin 
clothes nasty things ! ' 

'I declare!' cried Marcella, laughing, but outraged; 
'I never like myself so well in anything/ 

Minta was silent, but her small mouth took an 
obstinate look. What she really felt was that it was 
absurd for ladies to wear caps and aprons and plain 
black bonnets, when there was no need for them to 
do anything of the kind. 

'Whatever have you been doing to your cheek?' 
she exclaimed, suddenly, as Marcella handed her the 
empty cup to take away. 

[ 63 ] 


Marcella explained shortly, and Minta looked more 
discontented than ever. 'A lot of low people as ought 
to look after themselves/ that was how in her inmost 
mind she generally defined Marcella's patients. She 
had been often kind and soft to her neighbours at 
Mellor, but these dirty, crowded Londoners were an- 
other matter. 

'Where is Daisy?' asked Marcella, as Minta was 
going away with the tea; 'she must have come back 
from school.' 

'Here I am/ said Daisy, with a grin, peeping in 
through the door of the back kitchen. ' Mother, baby 's 
woke up/ 

'Come here, you monkey/ said Marcella; 'come and 
go to sleep with me. Have you had your tea?' 

'Yes, lots/ said Daisy, climbing up into Marcella's 
lap. 'Are you going to be asleep a long time?' 

'No only a nap. Oh ! Daisy, I'm so tired. Come 
and cuddlie a bit ! If you don't go to sleep, you know, 
you can slip away I shan't wake.' 

The child, a slight, red-haired thing, with something 
of the ethereal charm that her dead brother had pos- 
sessed, settled herself on Marcella's knees, slipped her 
left thumb into her mouth, and flung her other arm 
round Marcella's neck. They had often gone to sleep 
so. Mrs. Kurd came back, drew down the blind fur- 
ther, threw a light shawl over them both, and left 

An hour and a half later Minta came in again as 
she had been told. Daisy had slipped away, but Mar- 
cella was still lying in the perfect gentleness and re- 
laxation of sleep. 

[ 64 ] 


'You said I was to come and wake you/ said Minta, 
drawing up the blind; 'but I don't believe you're 
a bit fit to be going about. Here's some hot water, 
and there's a letter just come/ 

Marcella woke with a start, Minta put the letter 
on her knee, and dream and reality flowed together 
as she saw her own name in Wharton's handwriting. 

She read the letter, then sat flushed and thinking 
for a while with her hands on her knees. 

A little while later she opened the Hurds' front 

'Minta, I am going now. I shall be back early after 
supper, for I have n't written my report/ 

' There now you look something like ! ' said Minta, 
scanning her approvingly the wide hat and pretty 
black dress. 'Shall Daisy run out with that telegram? ' 

'No, thanks. I shall pass the post. Good-bye/ 

And she stooped and kissed the little withered 
woman. She wished, ardently wished, that Minta 
would be more truly friends with her! 

After a brisk walk through the June evening she 
stopped still within the same district at the 
door of a house in a long, old-fashioned street, wherein 
the builder was busy on either hand, since most of 
the long leases had just fallen in. But the house she 
entered was still untouched. She climbed a last- 
century staircase, adorned with panels of stucco-work 
-slender Italianate reliefs of wreaths, ribbons, and 
medallions on a pale-green ground. The decoration 
was clean and cared for, the house in good order. 
Eighty years ago it was the home of a famous judge, 
who entertained in its rooms the legal and literary 
[ 65 ] 


celebrities of his day. Now it was let out to pro- 
fessional people in lodgings or unfurnished rooms. 
Edward Hallin and his sister occupied the top floor. 

Miss Hallin, a pleasant-looking, plain woman of 
about thirty-five, came at once in answer to Marcella's 
knock, and greeted her affectionately. Edward Hallin 
sprang up from a table at the further end of the room. 

'You are so late! Alice and I had made up our 
minds you had forgotten us!' 

'I did n't get home till four, and then I had to have 
ji sleep/ she explained, half-shyly. 

'What! you have n't been night-nursing?' 

'Yes, for once.' 

'Alice, tell them to bring up supper, and let's look 
after her.' 

He wheeled round a comfortable chair to the open 
window the charming circular bow of last-century 
design, which filled up the end of the room and gave 
it character. The window looked out on a quiet line 
of back gardens, such as may still be seen in Blooms- 
bury, with fine plane trees here and there just coming 
into full leaf ; and beyond them the backs of another 
line of houses in a distant square, with pleasant 
irregularities of old brickwork and tiled roof. The 
mottled trunks of the planes, their blackened twigs 
and branches, their thin, beautiful leaves, the forms 
of the houses beyond, rose in a charming medley of 
line against the blue and peaceful sky. No near 
sound was to be heard, only the distant murmur that 
no Londoner escapes; and some of the British Museum 
pigeons were sunning themselves on the garden-wall 

[ 66 ] 


Within, the Hallins' room was spacious and barely 
furnished. The walls, indeed, were crowded with 
books, and broken, where the books ceased, by photo- 
graphs of Italy and Greece; but of furniture proper 
there seemed to be little beside Hallin's large writing- 
table facing the window, and a few chairs, placed on 
the blue drugget which brother and sister had chosen 
with a certain anxiety, dreading secretly lest it should 
be a piece of self-indulgence to buy what pleased 
them both so much. On one side of the fireplace was 
Miss Hallin's particular corner; her chair, the table^ 
that held her few special books, her work-basket, 
with its knitting, her accounts. There, in the intervals 
of many activities, she sat and worked or read, al- 
ways cheerful and busy, and always watching over her 

'I wish,' said Hallin, with some discontent, when 
Marcella had settled herself, 'that we were going to 
be alone to-night; that would have rested you 

'Why, who is coming?' said Marcella, a little flatly. 
She had certainly hoped to find them alone. 

'Your old friend, Frank Leven, is coming to supper. 
When he heard you were to be here he vowed that 
nothing could or should keep him away. Then, after 
supper, one or two people asked if they might come 
in. There are some anxious things going on.' 

He leant his head on his hand for a moment with 
a sigh, then forcibly wrenched himself from what were 
evidently recurrent thoughts. 

' Do tell me some more of what you are doing ! ' he 
said, bending forward to her. 'You don't know how 
[ 67 ] 


much I have thought of what you have told me al- 

' I 'm doing just the same/ she said, laughing. ' Don't 
take so much interest in it. It's the fashion just now 
to admire nurses; but it's ridiculous. We do our 
work like other people sometimes badly, some- 
times well. And some of us would n't do it if we could 

She threw out the last words with a certain vehem- 
ence, as though eager to get away from any senti- 
mentalism about herself. Hallin studied her kindly. 

'Is this miscellaneous work a relief to you after 
hospital?' he asked. 

'For the present. It is more exciting, and one sees 
more character. But there are drawbacks. In hospital 
everything was settled for you every hour was full, 
and there were always orders to follow. And the "off" 
times were no trouble I never did anything else but 
walk up and down the Embankment if it was fine, or 
go to the National Gallery if it was wet/ 

'And it was the monotony you liked?' 

She made a sign of assent. 

'Strange!' said Hallin; 'who could ever have fore- 
seen it?' 

She flushed. 

'You might have foreseen it, I think,' she said, not 
without a little impatience. 'But I did n't like it all 
at once. I hated a great deal of it. If they had let me 
alone all the time to scrub and polish and wash the 
things they set me to at first I thought I should have 
been quite happy. To see my table full of glasses with- 
out a spot, and my brass-taps shining, made me as 
[ 68 ] 


proud as a peacock ! But then of course I had to learn 
the real work, and that was very odd at first/ 

'How? Morally?' 

She nodded, laughing at her own remembrances. 
'Yes it seemed to me all topsy-turvy. I thought 
the Sister at the head of the ward rather a stupid 
person. If I had seen her at Mellor I should n't have 
spoken two words to her. And here she was ordering 
me about rating me as I had never rated a house- 
maid laughing at me for not knowing this or that, 
and generally making me feel that a raw probationer 
was one of the things of least account in the whole 
universe. I knew perfectly well that she had said to 
herself, "Now then I must take that proud girl down 
a peg, or she will be no use to anybody"; and I had 
somehow to put up with it/ 

'Drastic!' said Hallin, laughing; 'did you comfort 
yourself by reflecting that it was everybody's fate?' 

Her lip twitched with amusement. 

'Not for a long time. I used to have the most ab- 
surd ideas ! sometimes looking back I can hardly 
believe it perhaps it was partly a queer state of 
nerves. When I was at school and got in a passion 
I used to try and overawe the girls by shaking my 
Speaker great-uncle in their faces. And so in hospital ; 
it would flash across me sometimes in a plaintive sort 
of way that they couldn't know that I was Miss Boy ce of 
Mellor, and had been mothering and ruling the whole 
of my father's village or they would n't treat me so. 
Mercifully I held my tongue. But one day it came to 
a crisis. I had had to get things ready for an operation, 
and had done very well. Dr. Marshall had paid me 
[ 69 ] 


even a little compliment all to myself. But then 
afterwards the patient was some time in coming to, 
and there had to be hot-water bottles. I had them 
ready of course; but they were too hot, and in my 
zeal and nervousness I burnt the patient's elbow 
in two places. Oh! the fuss, and the scolding, 
and the humiliation! When I left the ward 
that evening I thought I would go home next 

'But you did n't?' 

'If I could have sat down and thought it out, I 
should probably have gone. But I could n't think it 
out I was too dead tired. That is the chief feature 
of your first months in hospital the utter helpless 
fatigue at night. You go to bed aching and you wake 
up aching. If you are healthy as I was, it does n't hurt 
you; but, when your time comes to sleep, sleep you 
must. Even that miserable night my head was no 
sooner on the pillow than I was asleep; and next 
morning there was all the routine as usual, and the 
dread of being a minute late on duty. Then when I 
got into the ward the Sister looked at me rather 
queerly and went out of her way to be kind to me. 
Oh ! I was so grateful to her ! I could have brushed her 
boots or done any other menial service for her with 
delight. And then somehow I pulled through. 
The enormous interest of the work seized me I 
grew ambitious they pushed me on rapidly - 
everybody seemed suddenly to become my friend in- 
stead of my enemy and I ended by thinking the 
hospital the most fascinating and engrossing place 
in the whole world.' 

[ 70 ] 


'A curious experience/ said Hallin. 'I suppose you 
had never obeyed any one in your life before?' 

' Not since I was at school and then not much ! ' 

Hallin glanced at her as she lay back in her chair. 
How richly human the face had grown! It was as 
forcible as ever in expression and colour, but that look 
which had often repelled him in his first acquaintance 
with her, as of a hard speculative eagerness more like 
the ardent boy than the woman, had very much dis- 
appeared. It seemed to him absorbed in something 
new something sad and yet benignant, informed 
with all the pathos and the pain of growth. 

'How long have you been at work to-day?' he 
asked her. 

'I went at eleven last night. I came away at four 
this afternoon.' 

Hallin exclaimed, 'You had food?' 

'Do you think I should let myself starve with my 
work to do? 'she asked him, with a shade of scorn and 
her most professional air. 'And don't suppose that 
such a case occurs often. It is a very rare thing for 
us to undertake night-nursing at all.' 

'Can you tell me what the case was?' 

She told him vaguely, describing also in a few words 
her encounter with Dr. Blank. 

'I suppose he will make a fuss,' she said, with a 
restless look, 'and that I shall be blamed.' 

' I should think your second doctor will take care of 
that!' said Hallin. 

'I don't know. I could n't help it. But it is one of 
our first principles not to question a doctor. And 
last week too I got the Association into trouble. A 


patient I had been nursing for weeks and got quite 
fond of had to be removed to hospital. She asked me 
to cut her hair. It was matted dreadfully, and would 
have been cut off directly she got to the ward. So I 
cut it, left her all comfortable, and was to come back 
at one to meet the doctor and help get her off. When 
I came, I found the whole court in an uproar. The 
sister of the woman, who had been watching for me, 
stood on the doorstep, and implored me to go away. 
The husband had gone out of his senses with rage 
because I had cut his wife's hair without his consent. 
"He'll murder you, Nuss!" said the sister, "if he 
sees you! Don't come in! he's mad he's been 
going round on 'is 'ands and knees on the floor!" 

Hallin interrupted with a shout of laughter. Mar- 
cella laughed too; but to his amazement he saw tljat 
her hand shook, and that there were tears in her eyes. 

'It's all very well,'* she said, with a sigh, 'but I had 
to come away in disgrace, all the street looking on. 
And he made such a fuss at the office as never was. 
It was unfortunate we don't want the people set 
against the nurses. And now Dr. Blank ! I seem 
to be always getting into scrapes. It is different from 
hospital, where everything is settled for one.' 

Hallin could hardly believe his ears. Such woman- 
ish terrors and depressions from Marcella Boyce ! Was 
she, after all, too young for the work, or was there 
some fret of the soul reducing her natural force? He 
felt an unwonted impulse of tenderness towards her 
- such as one might feel towards a tired child and 
set himself to cheer and rest her. 

He had succeeded to some extent, when he saw her 
[ 72 ] 


give a little start, and following her eyes he perceived 
that unconsciously his arm, which was resting on the 
table, had pushed into her view a photograph in a 
little frame, which had been hitherto concealed from 
her by a glass of flowers. He would have quietly put 
it out of sight again, but she sat up in her chair. 

'Will you give it me?' she said, putting out her 

He gave it her at once. 

'Alice brought it home from MissRaeburn the other 
day. His aunt made him sit to one of the photo- 
graphers who are always besieging public men. We 
thought it good/ 

'It's very good/ she said, after a pause. 'Is the hair 
really as grey as painted?' She pointed to it. 

' Quite. I am very glad that he is going off with Lord 
Maxwell to Italy. It will be ten days' break for him 
at any rate. His work this last year has been very 
heavy. He has had his grandfather's to do really, as 
well as his own ; and this Commission has been a stiff 
job too. I am rather sorry that he has taken this new 

'What post?' 

'Did n't you hear? They have made him Under- 
secretary to the Home Department. So that he is 
now in the Government/ 

She put back the photograph, and moved her chair 
a little so as to see more of the plane trees and the 
strips of sunset cloud. 

'How is Lord Maxwell?' she asked, presently. 

'Much changed. It might end in a sudden break-up 
at any time/ 

[ 73 ] 


Hallin saw a slight contraction pass over her face. 
He knew that she had always felt an affection for Lord 
Maxwell. Suddenly Marcella looked hastily round her. 
Miss Hallin was busy with the little servant at the 
other end of the room making arrangements for 

'Tell me/ she said, bending over the arm of her chair 
and speaking in a low, eager voice, 'he is beginning 
to forget it?' 

Hallin looked at her in silence, but his half-sad, 
half -ironic smile suggested an answer from which she 
turned away. 

' If he only would ! ' she said, speaking almost to her- 
self, with a kind of impatience. 'He ought to marry, 
for everybody's sake/ 

'I see no sign of his marrying at present/ said 
Hallin, dryly. 

He began to put some papers under his hand in 
order. There was a cold dignity in his manner which 
she perfectly understood. Ever since that day that 
never-forgotten day when he had come to her the 
morning after her last interview with Aldous Raeburn 
come with reluctance and dislike, because Aldous 
had asked it of him and had gone away her friend, 
more drawn to her, more touched by her than he had 
ever been in the days of the engagement, their relation 
on this subject had been the same. His sweetness 
and kindness to her, his influence over her life during 
the past eighteen months, had been very great. In 
that first interview, the object of which had been to 
convey to her a warning on the subject of the man 
it was thought she might allow herself to marry, some- 


thing in the manner with which he had attempted his 
incredibly difficult task its simplicity, its delicate 
respect for her personality, its suggestion of a character 
richer and saintlier than anything she had yet known, 
and unconsciously revealing itself under the stress of 
emotion this something had suddenly broken down 
his pale, proud companion, had to his own great dis- 
may brought her to tears, and to such confidences, 
such indirect askings for help and understanding as 
amazed them both. 

Experiences of this kind were not new to him. His 
life consecrated to ideas, devoted to the wresting of 
the maximum of human service from a crippling 
physical weakness; the precarious health itself which 
cut him off from a hundred ordinary amusements and 
occupations, and especially cut him off from marriage 
- together with the ardent temperament, the charm, 
the imaginative insight which had been his cradle- 
gifts these things ever since he was a lad had made 
him again and again the guide and prop of natures 
stronger and stormier than his own. Often the un- 
willing guide ; for he had the half -impatient, breathless 
instincts of the man who has set himself a task, and 
painfully doubts whether he will have power and time 
to finish it. The claims made upon him seemed to 
him often to cost him physical and brain energy he 
could ill spare. 

But his quick, tremulous sympathy rendered him 
really a defenceless prey in such matters. Marcella 
threw herself upon him as others had done ; and there 
was no help for it. Since their first memorable inter- 
view, at long intervals, he had written to her and she 
[ 75 ] 


to him. Of her hospital life, till to-night, she had 
never told him much. Her letters had been the pas- 
sionate outpourings of a nature sick of itself, and for 
the moment of living ; full of explanations which really 
explained little; full too of the untaught pangs and 
questionings of a mind which had never given any 
sustained or exhaustive effort to any philosophical 
or social question, and yet was in a sense tortured 
by them all athirst for an impossible justice, and 
aflame for ideals mocked first and above all by the 
writer's own weakness and defect. Hallin had felt them 
interesting, sad, and, in a sense, fine ; but he had never 
braced himself to answer them without groans. There 
were so many other people in the world in the same 

Nevertheless, all through the growth of friendship 
one thing had never altered between them from the 
beginning Hallin's irrevocable judgement of the 
treatment she had bestowed on Aldous Raeburn. 
Never throughout the whole course of their acquaint- 
ance had he expressed that judgement to her in so 
many words. Notwithstanding, she knew perfectly 
well both the nature and the force of it. It lay like 
a rock in the stream of their friendship. The currents 
of talk might circle round it, imply it, glance off from 
it; they left it unchanged. At the root of his mind 
towards her, at the bottom of his gentle sensitive 
nature, there was a sternness which he often forgot 
- she never. 

This hard fact in their relation had insensibly in- 
fluenced her greatly, was constantly indeed working 
in and upon her, especially since the chances of her 
[ 76 ] 


nursing career had brought her to settle in this district, 
within a stone's throw of him and his sister, so that 
she saw them often and intimately. But it worked in 
different ways. Sometimes as to-night it evoked 
a kind of defiance. 

A minute or two after he had made his remark 
about Aldous, she said to him suddenly : 

'I had a letter from Mr. Wharton to-day. He is 
coming to tea with me to-morrow, and I shall prob- 
ably go to the House on Friday with Edith Craven to 
hear him speak.' 

Hallin gave a slight start at the name. Then he 
said nothing; but went on sorting some letters of the 
day into different heaps. His silence roused her ir- 

'Do you remember/ she said, in a low, energetic 
voice, 'that I told you I could never be ungrateful, 
never forget what he had done?' 

'Yes, I remember/ he said, not without a certain 
sharpness of tone. 'You spoke of giving him help if 
he ever asked it of you has he asked it?' 

She explained that what he seemed to be asking 
was Louis Craven's help, and that his overtures with 
regard to the Labour Clarion were particularly oppor- 
tune, seeing that Louis was pining to be able to marry, 
and was losing heart, hope, and health for want of 
some fixed employment. She spoke warmly of her 
friends and their troubles, and Hallin 's inward dis- 
taste had to admit that all she said was plausible. 
Since the moment in that strange talk which had 
drawn them together, when she had turned upon him 
with the passionate cry 'I see what you mean, per- 
[ 77 ] 


fectly! but I am not going to marry Mr. Wharton, 
so don't trouble to warn me for the matter of that 
he has warned himself : but my gratitude he has 
earned, and if he asks for it I will never deny it him' 
-since that moment there had been no word of 
Wharton between them. At the bottom of his heart 
Hallin distrusted her, and was ashamed of himself 
because of it. His soreness and jealousy for his friend 
knew no bounds. 'If that were to come on again' - 
he was saying to himself now, as she talked to him 
- 'I could not bear it, I could not forgive her!' 

He only wished that she would give up talking about 
Wharton altogether. But, on the contrary, she would 
talk of him and with a curious persistence. She 
must needs know what Hallin thought of his career 
in Parliament, of his prospects, of his powers as a 
speaker. Hallin answered shortly, like some one ap- 
proached on a subject for which he cares nothing. 

'Yet, of course, it is not that; it is injustice!' she 
said to herself, with vehemence. ' He must care ; they 
are his subjects, his interests too. But he will not look 
at it dispassionately, because - 

So they fell out with each other a little, and the 
talk dragged. Yet, all the while, Marcella's inner mind 
was conscious of quite different thoughts. How good 
it was to be here, in this room, beside these two people ! 
She must show herself fractious and difficult with 
Hallin sometimes; it was her nature. But in reality, 
that slight and fragile form, that spiritual presence 
were now shrined in the girl's eager reverence and 
affection. She felt towards him as many a Catholic 
has felt toward his director ; though the hidden yearn- 


ing to be led by him was often oddly covered, as now, 
by an outer self-assertion. Perhaps her quarrel with 
him was that he would not lead her enough would 
not tell her precisely enough what she was to do with 


WHILE she and Hallin were sitting thus, momentar- 
ily out of tune with each other, the silence was sud- 
denly broken by a familiar voice. 

1 1 say, Hallin is this all right?' 

The words came from a young man who, having 
knocked unheeded, opened the door, and cautiously 
put in a curly head. 

'Frank! is that you? Come in/ cried Hallin, 
springing up. 

Frank Leven came in, and at once perceived the 
lady sitting in the window. 

'Well, I am glad !' he cried, striding across the room 
and shaking Hallin's hand by the way. 'Miss Boyce! 
I thought none of your friends were ever going to get 
a sight of you again ! Why, what - 

He drew back scanning her, a gay look of quizzing 
surprise on his fair boy's face. 

'He expected me in cap and apron/ said Marcella, 
laughing; 'or means to pretend he did/ 

' I expected a sensation ! And here you are, just as 
you were, only twice as I say, Hallin, does n't she 
look well !' - - this in a stage aside to Hallin, while the 
speaker was drawing off his gloves, and still studying 

'Well, / think she looks tired/ said Hallin, with a 
little attempt at a smile, but turning away. Every- 
body felt a certain tension, a certain danger, even in 
[ 80 ] 


the simplest words, and Miss Hallin 's call to supper was 
very welcome. 

The frugal meal went gaily. The chattering Christ- 
Church boy brought to it a breath of happy, careless 
life, to which the three others over-driven and over- 
pressed, all of them responded with a kind of eager- 
ness. Hallin especially delighted in him, and would 
have out all his budget his peacock's pride at hav- 
ing been just put into the 'Varsity eleven, his cricket 
engagements for the summer, his rows with his dons, 
above all his lasting amazement that he should have 
just scraped through his Mods. 

' I thought those Roman emperors would have done 
for me!' he declared, with a child's complacency. 
'Brutes! I could n't remember them. I learnt them 
up and down, backwards and forwards but it was 
no good ; they nearly dished me ! ' 

'Yet it comes back to me,' said Hallin, slyly, 'that 
when a certain person was once asked to name the 
winner of the Derby in some obscure year, he began 
at the beginning, and gave us all of them, from first 
to last, without a hitch/ 

'The winner of the Derby!' said the lad, eagerly, 
bending forward with his hands on his knees; 'why, 
I should rather think so! That is n't memory; that's 
knowledge! Goodness! who's this?' 

The last remark was addressed sotto voce to Marcella. 
Supper was just over, and the two guests, with Hallin, 
had returned to the window, while Miss Hallin, stoutly 
refusing their help, herself cleared the table and set 
all straight. 

Hallin, hearing a knock, had gone to the door while 

[ 81 ] 


Leven was speaking. Four men came crowding in, all 
of them apparently well known both to Hallin and 
his sister. The last two seemed to be workmen; the 
others were Bennett, Hallin 's old and tried friend 
among the Labour leaders, and Nehemiah Wilkins, 
M.P. Hallin introduced them all to Marcella and 
Leven; but the newcomers took little notice of any 
one but their host, and were soon seated about him 
discussing a matter already apparently familiar to 
them, and into which Hallin had thrown himself at 
once with that passionate directness which, in the 
social and speculative field, replaced his ordinary 
gentleness of manner. He seemed to be in strong 
disagreement with the rest a disagreement which 
troubled himself and irritated them. 

Marcella watched them with quick curiosity from 
the window where she was sitting, and would have 
liked to go forward to listen. But Frank Leven turned 
suddenly round upon her with sparkling eyes. 

'Oh, I say ! don't go. Do come and sit here with me 
a bit. Oh, is n't it rum ! is n't it rum! Look at Hallin, 
-those are the people whom he cares to talk to. 
That's a shoemaker, that man to the left really an 
awfully 'cute fellow and this man in front, I think 
he told me he was a mason, a Socialist of course 
would like to string me up to-morrow. Did you ever 
see such a countenance? Whenever that man begins, 
I think we must be precious near to shooting. And 
he's pious too, would pray over us first and shoot us 
afterwards which is n't the case, I understand, with 
many of 'em. Then the others you know them? 
That's Bennett regular good fellow always tell- 
F 82 1 


ing his pals not to make fools of themselves for 
which of course they love him no more than they are 
obliged. And Wilkins oh ! Wilkins ' he chuckled 
- 'they say it'll come to a beautiful row in the 
House before they've done, between him and my 
charming cousin, Harry Wharton. My father says he 
backs Wilkins/ 

Then suddenly the lad recollected himself and his 
clear cheek coloured a little after a hasty glance at 
his companion. He fell to silence and looking at his 
boots. Marcella wondered what was the matter with 
him. Since her flight from Mellor she had lived, so 
to speak, with her head in the sand. She herself had 
never talked directly of her own affairs to anybody. 
Her sensitive pride did not let her realise that, not- 
withstanding, all the world was aware of them. 

' I don't suppose you know much about your cousin !' 
she said to him, with a little scorn. 

'Well, I don't want to!' said the lad, 'that's one 
comfort ! But I don't know anything about anything! 
Miss Boyce!' 

He plunged his head in his hands, and Marcella, 
looking at him, saw at once that she was meant to 
understand she had woe and lamentation beside her. 

Her black eyes danced with laughter. At Mellor she 
had been several times his confidante. The handsome 
lad was not apparently very fond of his sisters and 
had taken to her from the beginning. To-night she 
recognised the old symptoms. 

'What, you have been getting into scrapes again?' 
she said 'how many since we met last?' 

'There! you make fun of it!' he said, indignantly, 
[ 83 ] 


from behind his fingers 'you're like all the 

Marcella teased him a little more till at last she was 
astonished by a flash of genuine wrath from the hast- 
ily uncovered eyes. 

'If you're only going to chaff a fellow, let's go over 
there and talk ! And yet I did want to tell you about 
it you were awfully kind to me down at home. I 
want to tell you and I don't want to tell you- 
perhaps I oughtn't to tell you you'll think me a 
brute, I dare say, an ungentlemanly brute for speak- 
ing of it at all and yet somehow - 

The boy, crimson, bit his lips. Marcella, arrested 
and puzzled, laid a hand on his arm. She had been 
used to these motherly ways with him at Mellor, on 
the strength of her seniority, so inadequately measured 
by its two years or so of time ! 

'I won't laugh,' she said, 'tell me.' 

'No really? shall I?' 

Whereupon there burst forth a history precisely 
similar, it seemed, to some half-dozen others she had 
already heard from the same lips. A pretty girl or 
rather 'an exquisite creature!' met at the house of 
some relation in Scotland, met again at the 'Boats' 
at Oxford, and yet again at Commemoration balls, 
Nuneham picnics, and the rest ; adored and adorable ; 
yet, of course, a sphinx born for the torment of men, 
taking her haughty way over a prostrate sex, kind 
to-day, cruel to-morrow; not to be won by money, 
yet, naturally, not to be won without it; possessed 
like Rose Aylmer of 'every virtue, every grace,' 
whether of form or family; yet making nothing but 
[ 84 ] 


a devastating and death-dealing use of them how 
familiar it all was ! and how many more of them 
there seemed to be in the world, on a man's reckon- 
ing, than on a woman's ! 

'And you know/ said the lad, eagerly, 'though 
she's so frightfully pretty well, frightfully fetching, 
rather and well dressed and all the rest of it, she 
is n't a bit silly, not one of your empty-headed girls 
-not she. She's read a lot of things a lot! I'm 
sure, Miss Boyce,' he looked at her confidently, 
'if you were to see her you'd think her awfully clever. 
And yet she 's so little and so dainty and she 
dances my goodness ! you should see her dance, 
skirt-dance, I mean Letty Lind is n't in it! She's 
good too, awfully good. I think her mother's a most 
dreadful old bore well, no, I did n't mean that 
of course I did n't mean that! but she's fussy, you 
know, and invalidy, and has to be wrapped up in 
shawls, and dragged about in Bath-chairs, and Betty's 
an angel to her she is really though her mother's 
always snapping her head off. And as to the poor - 

Something in his tone, in the way he had of fishing 
for her approval, sent Marcella into a sudden fit of 
laughter. Then she put out a hand to restrain this 
plunging lover. 

'Look here do come to the point have you 
proposed to her?' 

'I should rather think I have!' said the boy, fer- 
vently. 'About once a week since Christmas. Of 
course she's played with me that sort always does 
- but I think I might really have a chance with her, 
if it were n't for her mother horrible old no, of 
[ 85 ] 


course I don't mean that ! But now it comes in what 
I ought n't to tell you I know I ought n't to tell 
you! I'm always making a beastly mess of it. It's 
because I can't help talking of it!' 

And shaking his curly head in despair, he once more 
plunged his red cheeks into his hands and fell abruptly 

Marcella coloured for sympathy. 'I really wish you 
wouldn't talk in riddles,' she said. 'What is the 
matter with you? of course you must tell me.' 

'Well, I know you won't mind!' cried the lad, 
emerging. 'As if you could mind! But it sounds like 
my impudence to be talking to you about about 
You see,' he blurted out, 'she's going to Italy with 
the Raeburns. She's a connexion of theirs, somehow, 
and Miss Raeburn's taken a fancy to her lately and 
her mother's treated me like dirt ever since they 
asked her to go to Italy and naturally a fellow sees 
what that means and what her mother's after. I 
don't believe Betty would; he's too old for her, is n't 
he? Oh, my goodness !'-- this time he smote his 
knee in real desperation 'now I have done it. I'm 
simply bursting always with the thing I'd rather cut 
my head off than say. Why they make 'em like me 
I don't know!' 

'You mean/ said Marcella, with impatience, 'that 
her mother wants her to marry Mr. Raeburn?' 

He looked round at his companion. She was lying 
back in a deep chair, her hands lightly clasped on her 
knee. Something in her attitude, in the pose of the 
tragic head, in the expression of the face stamped 
to-night with a fatigue which was also a dignity, 
[ 86 ] 


struck a real compunction into his mood of vanity 
and excitement. He had simply not been able to resist 
the temptation to talk to her. She reminded him 
of the Raeburns, and the Raeburns were in his mind 
at the present moment by day and by night. He knew 
that he was probably doing an indelicate and indiscreet 
thing, but all the same his boyish egotism would not 
be restrained from the headlong pursuit of his own 
emotions. There was in him too such a burning curi- 
osity as to how she would take it what she would 

Now, however, he felt a genuine shrinking. His look 
changed. Drawing his chair close up to her he began 
a series of penitent and self-contradictory excuses 
which Marcella soon broke in upon. 

'I don't know why you talk like that/ she said, 
looking at him steadily. 'Do you suppose I can go 
on all my life without hearing Mr. Raeburn's name 
mentioned? And don't apologise so much! It really 
does n't matter what I suppose that you think 
about my present state of mind. It is very simple. 
I ought never to have accepted Mr. Raeburn. I be- 
haved badly. I know it and everybody knows it. 
, Still one has to go on living one's life somehow. The 
point is that I am rather the wrong person for you to 
come to just now, for if there is one thing I ardently 
wish about Mr. Raeburn, it is that he should get him- 
self married/ 

Frank Leven looked at her in bewildered dismay. 

'I never thought of that/ he said. 

'Well, you might, might n't you?' 

For another short space there was silence between 
[ 87 ] 


them, while the rush of talk in the centre cf the room 
was still loud and unspent. 

Then she rated herself for want of sympathy. Frank 
sat beside her shy and uncomfortable, his confidence 
chilled away. 

'So you think Miss Raeburn has views?' she asked 
him, smiling, and in her most ordinary voice. 

The boy's eye brightened again with the implied 
permission to go on chattering. 

'I know she has! Betty's brother as good as told 
me that she and Mrs. Macdonald that's Betty's 
mother she hasn't got a father had talked it 
over. And now Betty 's going with them to Italy, and 
Aldous is going too for ten days and when I go to 
the Macdonalds', Mrs. Macdonald treats me as if I 
were a little chap in jackets, and Betty worries me to 
death. It 's sickening ! ' 

'And how about Mr. Raeburn?' 

'Oh, Aldous seems to like her very much,' he said, 
despondently. 'She's always teasing and amusing 
him. When she's there she never lets him alone. 
She harries him out. She makes him read to her and 
ride with her. She makes him discuss all sorts of 
things with her you'd never think Aldous would dis- 
cuss her lovers and her love-affairs, and being in 
love! it's extraordinary the way she drives him 
round. At Easter she and her mother were staying 
at the Court, and one night Betty told me she was 
bored to death. It was a very smart party, but every- 
thing was so flat and everybody was so dull. So she 
suddenly got up and ran across to Aldous. "Now look 
here, Mr. Aldous," she said; "this'll never do! you've 
[ 88 ] 


got to come and dance with me, and push those chairs 
and tables aside" I can fancy the little stamp she'd 
give "and make those other people dance too." 
And she made him she positively made him. 
Aldous declared he did n't dance, and she would n't 
have a word of it. And presently she got to all her 
tricks, skirt-dancing and the rest of it and of 
course the evening went like smoke.' 

Marcella's eyes, unusually wide-open, were some- 
what intently fixed on the speaker. 

'And Mr. Raeburn liked it?' she asked, in a tone 
that sounded incredulous. 

'Did n't he just? She told me they got regular close 
friends after that, and he told her everything oh, 
well,' said the lad, embarrassed, and clutching at his 
usual formula 'of course, I did n't mean that. And 
she's fearfully flattered, you can see she is, and she 
tells me that she adores him that he's the only 
great man she's ever known that I'm not fit to 
black his boots, and ought to be grateful whenever 
he speaks to me and all that sort of rot. And now 
she's going off with them. I shall have to shoot my- 
self I declare I shall!' 

'Well, not yet,' said Marcella, in a soothing voice; 
'the case isn't clear enough. Wait till they come 
back. Shall we move? I'm going over there to listen 
to that talk. But first come and see me when- 
ever you like 3 to 4.30, Brown's Buildings, Maine 
Street and tell me how this goes on?' 

She spoke with a careless lightness, laughing at him 
with a half -sisterly freedom. She had risen from her 
seat, and he, whose thoughts had been wrapped up 
[ 89 ] 


for months in one of the smallest of the sex, was sud- 
denly struck with her height and stately gesture as 
she moved away from him. 

'By Jove! Why didn't she stick to Aldous?' he 
said to himself discontentedly as his eyes followed 
her. 'It was only her cranks, and of course she'll get 
rid of them. Just like my luck!' 

Meanwhile Marcella took a seat next to Miss Hallin, 
who looked up from her knitting to smile at her. The 
girl fell into the attitude of listening; but for some 
minutes she was not listening at all. She was reflecting 
how little men knew of each other ! even the most 
intimate friends and trying to imagine what Aldous 
Raeburn would be like, married to such a charmer as 
Frank had sketched. His friendship for her meant, of 
course, the attraction of contraries one of the most 
promising of all possible beginnings. On the whole, 
she thought Frank's chances were poor. 

Then, unexpectedly, her ear was caught by Whar- 
ton's name, and she discovered that what was going 
on beside her was a passionate discussion of his present 
position and prospects in the Labour party a dis- 
cussion, however, mainly confined to Wilkins and the 
two workmen. Bennett had the air of the shrewd 
and kindly spectator who has his own reasons for 
treating a situation with reserve ; and Hallin was lying 
back in his chair, flushed and worn-out. The previous 
debate, which had now merged in these questions of 
men and personalities, had made him miserable; he 
had no heart for anything more. Miss Hallin observed 
him anxiously, and made restless movements now 
[ 90 ] 


and then, as though she had it in her mind to send 
all her guests away. 

The two Socialist workmen were talking strongly 
in favour of an organised and distinct Labour party, 
and of Wharton's leadership. They referred con- 
stantly to Parnell, and what he had done for 'those 
Irish fellows/ The only way to make Labour formida- 
ble in the House was to learn the lesson of Unionism 
and of Parnellism, to act together and strike together, 
to make of the party a 'two-handed engine/ ready to 
smite Tory and Liberal impartially. To this end a 
separate organisation, separate place in the House, 
separate whips they were ready, nay clamorous, 
for them all. And they were equally determined on 
Harry Wharton as a leader. They spoke of the Clarion 
with enthusiasm, and declared that its owner was 
already an independent power, and was, moreover, as 
'straight' as he was sharp. 

The contention and the praise lashed Wilkins into 
fury. After making one or two visible efforts at a 
sarcastic self-control which came to nothing, he broke 
out into a flood of invective which left the rest of 
the room staring. Marcella found herself indignantly 
wondering who this big man, with his fierce eyes, 
long, puffy cheeks, coarse black hair, and North- 
country accent, might be. Why did he talk in this 
way, with these epithets, this venom? It was in- 
tolerable ! 

Hallin roused himself from his fatigue to play the 
peacemaker. But some of the things Wilkins had 
been saying had put up the backs of the two work- 
men, and the talk flamed up unmanageably Wil- 


kins's dialect getting more pronounced with each step 
of the argument. 

'Well, if I'd ever ha thowt that I war coomin to 
Lunnon to put myself and my party oonder the heel o' 
Muster Harry Wharton, I 'd ha stayed at home, I tell 
tha/ cried Wilkins, slapping his knee. ' If it's to be the 
People's party, why, in the name o' God, must yo 
put a yoong ripstitch like yon at the head of it? a 
man who'll just mak use of us all, you an me, and 
ivery man Jack of us, for his own advancement, an 
'ull kick us down when he's done with us! Why 
shouldn't he? What is he? Is he a man of its - 
bone of our bone? He's a landlord, and an aristocrat, 
I tell tha ! What have the likes o' him ever been but 
thorns in our side? When have the landlords ever 
gone with the people? Have they not been the blight 
and the curse o' the country for hun'erds o' years? 
And you're goin to tell me that a man bred out o' 
them living on his rent and interest grinding the 
faces of the poor, I '11 be bound if the truth were known, 
as all the rest of them do is goin to lead me, an 
those as '11 act with me to the pullin down of the 
landlords ! Why are we to go lickspittlin to any man 
of his sort to do our work for us? Let him go to his 
own class I'm told Mr. Wharton is mighty fond 
of countesses, and they of him ! or let him set up as 
the friend of the working-man, just as he likes I'm 
quite agreeable ! I shan't make any bones about 
takin his vote; but I 'm not goin to make him master 
over me, and give him the right to speak for my 
mates in the House of Commons. I'd cut my hand 
off fust!' 

[ 92 ] 


Leven grinned in the background. Bennett lay 
back in his chair with a worried look. Wilkins's 
crudities were very distasteful to him both in and out 
of the House. The younger of the Socialist workmen, 
a mason, with a strong square face, incongruously lit 
somehow with the eyes of the religious dreamer, looked 
at Wilkins contemptuously. 

'There's none of you in the House will take orders/ 
he said, quickly, 'and that's the ruin of us. We all 
know that. Where do you think we'd have been in 
the struggle with the employers, if we'd gone about 
our business as you're going about yours in the 
House of Commons?' 

'I'm not saying we shouldn't organise/ said 
Wilkins, fiercely. 'What I'm sayin is, get a man of 
the working-class a man who has the wants of the 
working-class a man whom the working-class can 
get a hold on to do your business for you, and not 
any bloodsucking landlord or capitalist. It's a slap 
i' the face to ivery honest working-man i' the country, 
to mak a Labour party and put Harry Wharton at 
t' head of it!' 

The young Socialist looked at him askance. 'Of 
course you 'd like it yourself ! ' was what he was think- 
ing. ' But they '11 take a man as can hold his own with 
the swells and quite right too!' 

'And if Mr. Wharton is a landlord he's a good sort !' 
exclaimed the shoemaker a tall, lean man in a well- 
brushed frock-coat. 'There's many on us knows, as 
have been to hear him speak, what he's tried to do 
about the land, and the co-operative farming. 'E's 
straight is Mr. Wharton. We 'ave n't got Socialism 
t 93 ] 


yet an it is n't 'is fault bein a landlord. 'Ee was 
born it.' 

'I tell tha he's playin for his own hand !' said Wil- 
kins, doggedly, the red spot deepening on his swarthy 
cheek 'he's runnin that paper for his own hand - 
have n't I had experience of him? I know it and 
I '11 prove it some day ! He 's one for f eatherin his own 
nest is Mr. Wharton and when he's doon it by 
makkin fools of us, he'll leave us to whistle for any 
good we're iver likely to get out o' him. He go agen 
the landlords when it coom to the real toossle! I 
know 'em I tell tha I know 'em !' 

A woman's voice, clear and scornful, broke into the 

'It's a little strange to think, isn't it, that while 
we in London go on groaning and moaning about in- 
sanitary houses, and making our small attempts here 
and there, half of the country poor of England have 
been rehoused in our generation by these same land- 
lords no fuss about it and rents for five-roomed 
cottages, somewhere about one and f ourpence a week ! ' 

Hallin swung his chair round and looked at the 
speaker amazed ! 

Wilkins also stared at her under his eyebrows. He 
did not like women least of all, ladies. 

He gruffly replied that if they had done anything 
like as much as she said which, he begged her par- 
don, but he did n't believe it was done for the 
landlords' own purposes, either to buy off public 
opinion, or just for show and aggrandisement. People 
who had prize pigs and prize cattle must have prize 
cottages of course 'with a race of slaves inside 'em !' 
[ 94 ] 


Marcella, bright-eyed, erect, her thin right hand 
hanging over her knee, went avengingly into facts - 
the difference between landlords' villages and 'open' 
villages; the agrarian experiments made by different 
great landlords; the advantage to the community, 
even from the Socialist point of view, of a system which 
had preserved the land in great blocks, for the ulti- 
mate use of the State, as compared with a system like 
the French, which had for ever made Socialism im- 

Hallin's astonishment almost swept away his weari- 

'Where in the world did she get it all from, and is 
she standing on her head or am I?' 

After an animated little debate, in which Bennett 
and the two workmen joined, while Wilkins sat for 
the most part in moody, contemptuous silence, and 
Marcella, her obstinacy roused, carried through her 
defence of the landlords with all a woman's love of 
emphasis and paradox, everybody rose simultaneously 
to say good-night. 

'You ought to come and lead a debate down at our 
Limehouse club/ said Bennett, pleasantly to Marcella, 
as she held out her hand to him; ' you'd take a lot of 

'Yet I'm a Venturist, you know,' she said, laughing ; 
'I am.' 

He shook his head, laughed too, and departed. 

When the four had gone, Marcella turned upon 

'Are there many of these Labour members like that?' 

Her tone was still vibrating and sarcastic. 
[ 95 ] 


'He's not much of a talker, our Nehemiah,' said 
Hallin, smiling; 'but he has the most extraordinary 
power as a speaker over a large popular audience that 
I have ever seen. The man's honesty is amazing, - 
it's his tempers and his jealousies get in his way. 
You astonished him ; but, for the matter of that, you 
astonished Frank and me still more ! ' 

And as he fell back into his chair, Marcella caught 
a flash of expression, a tone that somehow put her on 
her defence. 

'I was not going to listen to such unjust stuff with- 
out a word. Politics is one thing slanderous abuse 
is another!' she said, throwing back her head with 
a gesture which instantly brought back to Hallin the 
scene in the Mellor drawing-room, when she had de- 
nounced the game-laws and Wharton had scored his 
first point. 

He was silent, feeling a certain inner exasperation 
with women and their ways. 

'"She only did it to annoy/" cried Frank Leven; 
'"because she knows it teases." We know very well 
what she thinks of us. But where did you get it all 
from, Miss Boyce? I just wish you'd tell me. There's 
a horrid Radical in the House I 'm always having rows 
with and upon my word I did n't know there was 
half so much to be said for us!' 

Marcella flushed. 

'Never mind where I got it!' she said. 

In reality, of course, it was from those Agricultural 
Reports she had worked through the year before under 
Wharton 's teaching, with so much angry zest, and to 
such different purpose. 

[ 96 ] 


When the door closed upon her and upon Frank 
Leven, who was to escort her home, Hallin walked 
quickly over to the table, and stood looking for a 
moment in a sort of bitter reverie at Raeburn's photo- 

His sister followed him, and laid her hand on his 

' Do go to bed, Edward ! I am afraid that talk has 
tired you dreadfully.' 

'It would be no good going to bed, dear/ he said, 
with a sigh of exhaustion. 'I will sit and read a bit, 
and see if I can get myself into sleeping trim. But 
you go, Alice good -night/ 

When she had gone he threw himself into his chair 
again with the thought 'She must contradict here 
as she contradicted there ! She and justice ! If she 
could have been just to a landlord for one hour last 
year - 

He spent himself for a while in endless chains of 
recollection, oppressed by the clearness of his own 
brain, and thirsting for sleep. Then from the affairs 
of Raeburn and Marcella, he passed with a fresh sense 
of strain and effort to his own. That discussion with 
those four men which had filled the first part of the 
evening weighed upon him in his .weakness of nerve, 
so that suddenly, in the phantom silence of the night, 
all life became an oppression and a terror, and rest, 
either to-night or in the future, a thing never to be his. 

He had come to the moment of difficulty, of tragedy, 

in a career which so far, in spite of all drawbacks of 

physical health and cramped activities, had been one 

of singular happiness and success. Ever since he had 

[ 97 ] 


discovered his own gifts as a lecturer to working-men, 
content, cheerfulness, nay, a passionate interest in 
every hour, had been quite compatible for him with 
all the permanent limitations of his lot. The study of 
economical and historical questions; the expression 
through them of such a hunger for the building of a 
'city of God' among men, as few are capable of; the 
evidence not to be ignored even by his modesty, and 
perpetually forthcoming over a long period of time, 
that he had the power to be loved, the power to lead, 
among those toilers of the world on whom all his 
thoughts centred these things had been his joy, 
and had led him easily through much self-denial to 
the careful husbanding of every hour of strength and 
time in the service of his ideal end. 

And now he had come upon opposition the first 
cooling of friendships, the first distrust of friends that 
he had ever known. 

Early in the spring of this year a book called 'To- 
morrow and the Land' had appeared in London, 
written by a young London economist of great ability, 
and dealing with the nationalisation of the land. It 
did not offer much discussion of the general question, 
but it took up the question as it affected England 
specially and London in particular. It showed or 
tried to show in picturesque detail what might be 
the consequences for English rural or municipal life 
of throwing all land into a common or national stock, 
of expropriating the landlords, and transferring all 
rent to the people, to the effacement of taxation and 
the indefinite enrichment of the common lot. The 
book differed from 'Progress and Poverty/ which also 
[ 98 ] 


powerfully and directly affected the English working- 
class, in that it suggested a financial scheme, of great 
apparent simplicity and ingenuity, for the compensa- 
tion of the landlords; it was shorter, and more easily 
to be grasped by the average working-man; and it 
was written in a singularly crisp and taking style, and 
-by the help of a number of telling illustrations 
borrowed directly from the circumstances of the larger 
English towns, especially of London treated with 
abundant humour. 

The thing had an enormous success in popular 
phrase, 'caught on/ Soon Hallin found, that all the 
more active and intelligent spirits in the working-class 
centres where he was in vogue as a lecturer were 
touched nay, possessed by it. The crowd of 
more or less socialistic newspapers which had lately 
sprung up in London were full of it ; the working-men's 
clubs rang with it. It seemed to him a madness an 
infection ; and it spread like one. The book had soon 
reached an immense sale, and was in every one's 

To Hallin, a popular teacher, interested above all 
in the mingled problems of ethics and economics, such 
an incident was naturally of extreme importance. But 
he was himself opposed by deepest conviction, intel- 
lectual and moral, to the book and its conclusions. 
The more its success grew, the more eager and passion- 
ate became his own desire to battle with it. His plat- 
form, of course, was secured to him; his openings 
many. Hundreds and thousands of men all over 
England were keen to know what he had to say about 
the new phenomenon. 

[ 99 ] 


And he had been saying his say throwing into it 
all his energies, all his finest work. With the result 
that for the first time in eleven years he felt his 
position in the working-class movement giving be- 
neath his feet, and his influence beginning to drop 
from his hand. Coldness in place of enthusiasm; crit- 
ical aloofness in place of affection ; readiness to forget 
and omit him in matters where he had always hitherto 
belonged to the inner circle and the trusted few - 
these bitter ghosts, with their hard, unfamiliar looks, 
had risen of late in his world of idealist effort and 
joy, and had brought with them darkness and chill. 
He could not give way, for he had a singular unity of 
soul it had been the source of his power and 
every economical or social conviction was in some 
way bound up with the moral and religious passion 
which was his being his inmost nature. And his 
sensitive state of nerve and brain, his anchorite's way 
of life, did not allow him the distractions of other men. 
The spread of these and other similar ideas seemed to 
him a question of the future of England ; and he had 
already begun to throw himself into the unequal 
struggle with a martyr's tenacity, and with some 
prescience of the martyr's fate. 

Even Bennett! As he sat there alone in the dim 
lamplight, his head bent over his knees, his hands 
hanging loosely before him, he thought bitterly of 
the defection of that old friend who had stood by 
him through so many lesser contests. It was impossible 
that Bennett should think the schemes of that book 
feasible ! Yet he was one of the honestest of men, and, 
within a certain range, one of the most clear-headed. 
[ 100 1 


As for the others, they had been all against him. In- 
tellectually, their opinion did not matter to him ; but 
morally it was so strange to him to find himself on 
the side of doubt and dissent, while all his friends 
were talking language which was almost the language 
of a new faith ! 

He had various lecturing engagements ahead, con- 
nected with this great debate which was now surging 
throughout the Labour world of London. He had 
accepted them with eagerness; in these weary night 
hours he looked forward to them with terror, seeing 
before him perpetually thousands of hostile faces, 
living in a nightmare of lost sympathies and broken 
friendships. Oh, for sleep for the power to rest 
to escape this corrosion of an ever active thought, 
which settled and reconciled nothing ! 

'The tragedy of life lies in the conflict between the 
creative will of man and the hidden wisdom of the world, 
which seems to thwart it.' These words, written by one 
whose thought had penetrated deep into his own, 
rang in his ears as he sat brooding there. Not the 
hidden fate, or the hidden evil, but the hidden wisdom. 
Could one die and still believe it? Yet what else was 
the task of faith? 


So I understand you wish me to go down at once?' 
said Louis Craven. 'This is Friday say Monday?' 

Wharton nodded. He and Craven were sitting in 
Marcella's little sitting-room. Their hostess and Edith 
Craven had escaped through the door in the back 
kitchen communicating with the Kurds' tenement, so 
that the two men might be left alone a while. The 
interview between them had gone smoothly, and Louis 
Craven had accepted immediate employment on the 
Labour Clarion, as the paper's correspondent in the 
Midlands, with special reference to the important 
strike just pending. Wharton, whose tendency in mat- 
ters of business was always to go rather further than 
he had meant to go, for the sake generally of making 
an impression on the man with whom he was dealing, 
had spoken of a two years' engagement, and had of- 
fered two hundred a year. So far as that went, Craven 
was abundantly satisfied. 

'And I understand from you,' he said, 'that the 
paper goes in for the strike, that you will fight it 

He fixed his penetrating, greenish eyes on his com- 
panion. Louis Craven was now a tall man with narrow 
shoulders, a fine oval head and face, delicate features, 
and a nervous look of short sight, producing in ap- 
pearance and manner a general impression of thin 
grace and of a courtesy which was apt to pass unac- 
[ 102 ] 


countably into sarcasm. Wharton had never felt him- 
self personally at ease with him, either now, or in the 
old days of Venturist debates. 

'Certainly, we shall fight it through/ Wharton re- 
plied, with emphasis ' I have gone through the sec- 
retary's statement, which I now hand over to you, 
and I never saw a clearer case. The poor wretches 
have been skinned too long; it is high time the public 
backed them up. There are two of the masters in the 
House. Denny, I should say, belonged quite to the 
worst type of employer going/ 

He spoke with light venom, buttoning his coat as 
he spoke with the air of the busy public man who 
must not linger over an appointment. 

'Oh! Denny!' said Craven, musing; 'yes, Denny is 
a hard man, but a just one according to his lights. 
There are plenty worse than he/ 

Wharton was disagreeably reminded of the Ventur- 
ist habit of never accepting anything that was said 
quite as it stood of not, even in small things, 'swear- 
ing to the words' of anybody. He was conscious of 
the quick passing feeling that his judgement, with 
regard to Denny, ought to have been enough for 

'One thing more,' said Craven, suddenly, as Whar- 
ton looked for his stick 'you see there is talk of 

'Oh yes, I know!' said Wharton, impatiently; 'a 
mere blind. The men have been done by it twice 
before. They get some big- wig from the neighbour- 
hood not in the trade, indeed, but next door to it 
- and, of course, the award goes against the men/ 
[ 103 ] 


'Then the paper will not back arbitration?' 

Craven took out a note-book. 

'No! The quarrel itself is as plain as a pike-staff. 
The men are asking for a mere pittance, and must get 
it if they are to live. It 's like all these home industries, 
abominably ground down. We must go for them ! I 
mean to go for them hot and strong. Poor devils ! did 
you read the evidence in that Blue-book last year? 
Arbitration? no, indeed! let them live first!' 

Craven looked up absently. 

'And I think/ he said, 'you gave me Mr. Thorpe's 
address?' Mr. Thorpe was the secretary. 

Again Wharton gulped down his annoyance. If he 
chose to be expansive, it was not for Craven to take 
no notice. 

Craven, however, except in print, where he could 
be as vehement as anybody else, never spoke but in 
the driest way of those workman's grievances, which 
in reality burnt at the man's heart. A deep disdain 
for what had always seemed to him the cheapest 
form of self-advertisement held him back. It was this 
dryness, combined with an amazing disinterestedness, 
which had so far stood in his way. 

Wharton repeated the address, following it up by 
some rather curt directions as to the length and date 
of articles, to which Craven gave the minutest at- 

'May we come in?' said Marcella's voice. 

'By all means,' said Wharton, with a complete 
change of tone. ' Business is up and I am off ! ' 

He took up his hat as he spoke. 

'Not at all! Tea is just coming, without which no 
[ 104 ] 


guest departs/ said Marcella, taking as she spoke 
a little tray from the red-haired Daisy who followed 
her, and motioning to the child to bring the tea- 

Wharton looked at her irresolute. He had spent half 
an hour with her tete-a-tete before Louis Craven ar- 
rived, and he was really due at the House. But now 
that she was on the scene again, he did not find it 
so easy to go away. How astonishingly beautiful she 
was, even in this disguise ! She wore her nurse's dress ; 
for her second daily round began at half-past four, 
and her cloak, bonnet, and bag were lying ready on a 
chair beside her. The dress was plain brown holland, 
with collar and armlets of white linen ; but, to Whar- 
ton 's eye, the dark Italian head, and the long slen- 
derness of form had never shown more finely. He 
hesitated and stayed. 

'All well?' said Marcella, in a half -whisper, as she 
passed Louis Craven on her way to get some cake. 

He nodded and smiled, and she went back to the 
tea-table with an eye all gaiety, pleased with herself 
and everybody else. 

The quarter of an hour that followed went agreeably 
enough. Wharton sat among the little group, far too 
clever to patronise a cat, let alone a Venturist, but 
none the less master and conscious master of the 
occasion, because it suited him to take the airs of 
equality. Craven said little, but as he lounged in 
Marcella's long cane chair with his arms behind his 
head, his serene and hazy air showed him contented ; 
and Marcella talked and laughed with the animation 
that belongs to one whose plots for improving the 
[ 105 ] 


universe have at least temporarily succeeded. Or did 
it betray, perhaps, a woman's secret consciousness of 
some presence beside her, more troubling and mag- 
netic to her than others? 

'Well then, Friday/ said Wharton at last, when his 
time was more than spent. 'You must be there early, 
for there will be a crush. Miss Craven comes too? 
Excellent! I will tell the doorkeeper to look out for 
you. Good-bye ! good-bye ! ' 

And with a hasty shake of the hand to the Cravens, 
and one more keen glance, first at Marcella and then 
round the little workman's room in which they had 
been sitting, he went. 

He had hardly departed before Anthony Craven, 
the lame elder brother, who must have passed him 
on the stairs, appeared. 

'Well any news?' he said, as Marcella found him 
a chair. 

'All right!' said Louis, whose manner had entirely 
changed since Wharton had left the room. 'I am to 
go down on Monday to report the Damesley strike 
that is to be. A month's trial, and then a salary - 
two hundred a year. Oh ! it'll do.' 

He fidgeted and looked away from his brother, as 
though trying to hide his pleasure. But in spite of 
him it transformed every line of the pinched and 
worn face. 

'And you and Anna will walk to the Registry Office 
next week?' said Anthony, sourly, as he took his tea. 

'It can't be next week,' said Edith Craven's quiet 
voice, interposing. 'Anna's got to work out her shirt- 
making time. She only left the tailoresses and began 
[ 106 ] 


this new business ten days ago. And she was to have 
a month at each/ 

Marcella's lifted eyebrows asked for explanations. 
She had not yet seen Louis's betrothed, but she was 
understood to be a character, and a better authority 
on many Labour questions than he. 

Louis explained that Anna was exploring various 
sweated trades for the benefit of an East-End news- 
paper. She had earned fourteen shillings her last week 
at tailoring, but the feat had exhausted her so much 
that he had been obliged to insist on two or three 
days' respite before moving on to shirts. Shirts were 
now brisk, and the hours appallingly long in this heat. 

'It was on shirts they made acquaintance,' said 
Edith, pensively. 'Louis was lodging on the second 
floor, she in the third floor back, and they used to pass 
on the stairs. One day she heard him imploring the 
little slavey to put some buttons on his shirts. The 
slavey tossed her head, and said she'd see about it. 
When he'd gone out, Anna came downstairs, calmly 
demanded his shirts, and, having the slavey under 
her thumb, got them, walked off with them, and 
mended them all. When Louis came home he dis- 
covered a neat heap reposing on his table. Of course 
he wept whatever he may say. But next morning 
Miss Anna found her shoes outside her door, blacked 
as they had never been blacked before, with a note 
inside one of them. Affecting! wasn't it? Thence- 
forward, as long as they remained in those lodgings, 
Anna mended and Louis blacked. Naturally, Anthony 
and I drew our conclusions.' 

Marcella laughed. 

[ 107 ] 


'You must bring her to see me/ she said to 

'I will/ said Louis, with some perplexity; 'if I can 
get hold of her. But when she isn't stitching she's 
writing, or trying to set up unions. She does the work 
of six. She '11 earn nearly as much as I do when we 're 
married. Oh ! we shall swim !' 

Anthony surveyed his radiant aspect so unlike 
the gentle or satirical detachment which made his 
ordinary manner with a darkening eye, as though 
annoyed by his effusion. 

'Two hundred a year?' he said, slowly ; 'about what 
Mr. Harry Wharton spends on his clothes, I should 
think. The Labour men tell me he is superb in that 
line. And for the same sum that he spends on his 
clothes, he is able to buy you, Louis, body and soul, 
and you seem inclined to be grateful/ 

'Never mind/ said Louis, recklessly. 'He didn't 
buy some one else and I am grateful !' 

'No; by Heaven, you shan't be!' said Anthony, 
with a fierce change of tone. ' You the dependent of 
that charlatan ! I don't know how I 'm to put up with 
it. You know very well what I think of him, and of 
your becoming dependent on him.' 

Marcella gave an angry start. Louis protested. 

'Nonsense!' said Anthony, doggedly; 'you'll have 
to bear it from me, I tell you unless you muzzle 
me too with an Anna.' 

'But I don't see why 7 should bear it/ said Mar- 
cella, turning upon him. 'I think you know that I 
owe Mr. Wharton a debt. Please remember it!' 

Anthony looked at her an instant in silence. A 
[ 108 ] 


question crossed his mind concerning her. Then he 
made her a little clumsy bow. 

'I am dumb/ he said. 'My manners, you perceive, 
are what they always were/ 

'What do you mean by such a remark?' cried Mar- 
cella, fuming. 'How can a man who has reached the 
position he has in so short a time in so many 
different worlds be disposed of by calling him an 
ugly name? It is more than unjust it is absurd! 
Besides, what can you know of him?' 

'You forget/ said Anthony, as he calmly helped 
himself to more bread-and-butter, 'that it is some 
three years since Master Harry Wharton joined the 
Venturists and began to be heard of at all. I watched 
his beginnings, and if I did n't know him well, my 
friends and Louis's did. And most of them as he 
knows ! have pretty strong opinions by now about 
the man.' ^ 

' Come, come, Anthony ! ' said Louis, ' nofeq&y expects 
a man of that type to be the pure-eyed patriot. But 
neither you nor I can deny that he has done some 
good service. Am I asked to take him to my bosom? 
Not at all! He proposes a job to me, and offers to 
pay me. I like the job, and mean to use him and his 
paper, both to earn some money that I want, and do 
a bit of decent work.' 

' You use Harry Wharton !' said the cripple, with 
a sarcasm that brought the colour to Louis's thin 
cheek and made Marcella angrier than before. She 
saw nothing in his attack on Wharton, except personal 
prejudice and ill-will. It was natural enough, that a 
man of Anthony Craven's type poor, unsuccessful, 
[ 109 ] 


and embittered should dislike a popular victorious 
personality. . 

'Suppose we leave Mr. Wharton alone!' she said, 
with emphasis, and Anthony, making her a little proud 
gesture of submission, threw himself back in his chair, 
and was silent. 

It had soon become evident to Marcella, upon the 
renewal of her friendship with the Cravens, that An- 
thony's temper towards all men, especially towards 
social reformers and politicians, had developed into a 
mere impotent bitterness. While Louis had renounced 
his art, and devoted himself to journalism, unpaid 
public work, and starvation, that he might so throw 
himself the more directly into the Socialist battle, 
Anthony had remained an artist, mainly employed as 
before in decorative design. Yet he was probably the 
more fierce Venturist and anti-capitalist of the two. 
Only what with Louis was an intoxication of hope, 
was on the whole with Anthony a counsel of despair. 
He loathed wealth more passionately than ever; but 
he believed less in the working-man, less in his kind. 
Rich men must cease to exist; but the world on any 
terms would probably remain a sorry spot. 

In the few talks that he had had with Marcella 
since she left the hospital, she had allowed him to 
gather more or less clearly though with hardly a 
mention of Aldous Raeburn's name what had hap- 
pened to her at Mellor. Anthony Craven thought out 
the story for himself, finding it a fit food for a caustic 
temper. Poor devil the lover ! To fall a victim to 
enthusiasms so raw, so unprofitable from any point of 
view, was hard. And as to this move to London, he 
[ no '] 


thought he foresaw the certain end of it. At any rate 
he believed in her no more than before. But her beauty 
was more marked than ever, and would, of course, be 
the dominant factor in her fate. He was thankful, at 
any rate, that Louis in this two years' interval had 
finally transferred his heart elsewhere. 

After watching his three companions for a while, he 
broke in upon their chat with an abrupt - 

'What is this job, Louis?' 

'I told you. I am to investigate, report, and back 
up the Damesley strike, or rather the strike that 
begins at Damesley next week/ 

'No chance!' said Anthony, shortly, 'the masters 
are too strong. I had a talk with Denny yesterday/ 

The Denny he meant, however, was not Wharton's 
colleague in the House, but his son a young man 
who, beginning life as the heir of one of the most stiff- 
backed and autocratic of capitalists, had developed 
socialistic opinions, renounced his father's allowance, 
and was now a member of the 'intellectual proletariat,' 
as they have been called, the free-lances of the collect- 
ivist movement. He had lately joined the Venturists. 
Anthony had taken a fancy to him. Louis as yet knew 
little or nothing of him. 

'Ah, well!' he said, in reply to his brother, 'I don't 
know. I think the Clarion can do something. The 
press grows more and more powerful in these things/ 

And he repeated some of the statements that Whar- 
ton had made that Wharton always did make, in 
talking of the Clarion as to its growth under his 
hands, and increasing 'influence in Labour disputes. 

'Bunkum!' interrupted Anthony, dryly; 'pure bun- 

t in ] 


kum ! My own belief is that the Clarion is a rotten 
property, and that he knows it ! ' 

At this both Marcella and Louis laughed out. Ex- 
travagance after a certain point becomes amusing. 
They dropped their vexation, and Anthony for the 
next ten minutes had to submit to the part of the 
fractious person whom one humours but does not 
argue with. He accepted the part, saying little, his 
eager, feverish eyes, full of hostility, glancing from 
one to the other. 

However, at the end, Marcella bade him a perfectly 
friendly farewell. It was always in her mind that An- 
thony Craven was lame and solitary, and her pity no 
less than her respect for him had long since yielded 
him the right to be rude. 

'How are you getting on?' he said to her abruptly 
as he dropped her hand. 

' Oh, very well ! my superintendent leaves me almost 
alone now, which is a compliment. There is a parish 
doctor who calls me "my good woman," and a sani- 
tary inspector who tells me to go to him whenever I 
want advice. Those are my chief grievances, I think/ 

' And you are as much in love with the poor as ever ? ' 

She stiffened at the note of sarcasm, and a retalia- 
tory impulse made her say : 

'I see a great deal more happiness than I expected/ 

He laughed. 

' How like a woman ! A few ill-housed villagers made 
you a democrat. A few well-paid London artisans will 
carry you safely back to your class. Your people were 
wise to let you take this work/ 

'Do you suppose I nurse none but well-paid arti- 


sans?' she asked him, mocking. 'And I didn't say 
"money" or "comfort," did I? but "happiness." As 
for my " democracy," you are not perhaps the best 

She stood resting both hands on a little table behind 
her, in an attitude touched with the wild freedom 
which best became her, a gleam of storm in her great 

'Why are you still a Venturist?' he asked her 

' Because I have every right to be ! I joined a society, 
pledged to work "for a better future." According to 
my lights, I do what poor work I can in that spirit/ 

'You are not a Socialist. Half the things you say, 
or imply, show it. And we are Socialists.' 

She hesitated, looking at him steadily. 

' No ! so far as Socialism means a political sys- 
tem the trampling out of private enterprise and 
competition, and all the rest of it I find myself 
slipping away from it more and more. No ! as I go 
about among these wage-earners, the emphasis do 
what I will comes to lie less and less on possession 
more and more on character. I go to two tenements 
in the same building. One is Hell the other Heaven. 
Why? Both belong to well-paid artisans with equal 
opportunities. Both, so far as I can see, might have 
a decent and pleasant life of it. But one is a man 
the other, with all his belongings, will soon be a vaga- 
bond. That is not all, I know oh ! don't trouble to 
tell me so ! but it is more than I thought. No ! 
my sympathies in this district where I work are not 
so much with the Socialists that I know here saving 


your presence! but with the people, for instance, 
that slave at Charity Organisation! and get all the 
abuse from all sides/ 

Anthony laughed scornfully. 

'It is always the way with a woman/ he said; 'she 
invariably prefers the tinkers to the reformers.' 

'And as to your Socialism/ she went on, unheeding, 
the thought of many days finding defiant expression 

- 'it seems to me like all other interesting and im- 
portant things destined to help something else! 
Christianity begins with the poor and division of goods 

- it becomes the great bulwark of property and the 
feudal state. The Crusades they set out to recover 
the tomb of the Lord ! what they did was to increase 
trade and knowledge. And so with Socialism. It talks 
of a new order what it will do is to help to make 
the old sound!' 

Anthony clapped her ironically. 

'Excellent! When the Liberty and Property De- 
fence people have got hold of you ask me to come 
and hear!' 

Meanwhile, Louis stood behind, with his hands on 
his sides, a smile in his blinking eyes. He really had 
a contempt for what a handsome, half-taught girl of 
twenty-three might think. Anthony only pretended 
or desired to have it. 

Nevertheless, Louis said good-bye to his hostess with 
real, and, for him, rare effusion. Two years before, 
for the space of some months, he had been in love with 
her. That she had never responded with anything 
warmer than liking and comradeship he knew; and 
his Anna now possessed him wholly. But there was 
[ H4 ] 


a deep and gentle chivalry at the bottom of all his 
stern social faiths; and the woman towards whom he 
had once felt as he had towards Marcella Boyce could 
never lose the glamour lent her by that moment of 
passionate youth. And now, so kindly, so eagerly ! - 
she had given him his Anna. 

When they were all gone Marcella threw herself into 
her chair a moment to think. Her wrath with An- 
thony was soon dismissed. But Louis's thanks had 
filled her with delicious pleasure. Her cheek, her eye 
had a child's brightness. The old passion for ruling 
and influencing was all alive and happy. 

'I will see it is all right,' she was saying to herself. 
'I will look after them/ 

What she meant was, ' I will see that Mr. Wharton 
looks after them!' and through the link of thought, 
memory flew quickly back to that tete-a-tete with him 
which had preceded the Cravens' arrival. 

How changed he was, yet how much the same ! He 
had not sat beside her for ten minutes before each 
was once more vividly, specially conscious of the 
other. She felt in him the old life and daring, the 
old imperious claim to confidence, to intimacy on 
the other hand a new atmosphere, a new gravity, 
which suggested growing responsibilities, the diffi- 
culties of power, a great position everything fitted 
to touch such an imagination as Marcella' s, which, 
whatever its faults, was noble, both in quality and 
range. The brow beneath the bright chestnut curls 
had gained lines that pleased her lines that a 
woman marks, because she thinks they mean ex- 
perience and mastery. 

[ H5 1 


Altogether, to have met him again was pleasure; to 
think of him was pleasure ; to look forward to hearing 
him speak in Parliament was pleasure; so too was his 
new connexion with her old friends. And a pleasure 
which took nothing from self-respect; which was 
open, honourable, eager. As for that ugly folly of 
the past, she frowned at the thought of it, only to 
thrust the remembrance passionately away. That he 
should remember or allude to it, would put an end to 
friendship. Otherwise friends they would and should 
be; and the personal interest in his public career 
should lift her out of the cramping influences that 
flow from the perpetual commerce of poverty and 
suffering. Why not? Such equal friendships between 
men and women grow more possible every day. While, 
as for Hallin's distrust, and Anthony Craven's jealous 
hostility, why should a third person be bound by 
either of them? Could any one suppose that such a 
temperament as Wharton's would be congenial to 
Hallin or to Craven or to yet another person, 
of whom she did not want to think? Besides, who 
wished to make a hero of him? It was the very com- 
plexity and puzzle of the character that made its 

So with a reddened cheek, she lost herself a few 
minutes in this pleasant sense of a new wealth in 
life; and was only roused from the dreamy running 
to and fro of thought by the appearance of Minta, 
who came to clear away the tea. 

'Why, it is close on the half-hour!' cried Marcella, 
springing up. 'Where are my things?' 
[ H6 ] 


She looked down the notes of her cases, satisfied 
herself that her bag contained all she wanted, and 
then hastily tied on her bonnet and cloak. 

Suddenly the room was empty, for Minta had 
just gone away with the tea by a kind of subtle 
reaction, the face in that photograph on Hallin's 
table flashed into her mind its look the grizzled 
hair. With an uncontrollable pang of pain she dropped 
her hands from the fastenings of her cloak, and wrung 
them together in front of her a dumb gesture of 
contrition and of grief. 

She! she talk of social reform and 'character/ 
she give her opinion, as of right, on points of specula- 
tion and of ethics, she, whose main achievement so 
far had been to make a good man suffer. Something 
belittling and withering swept over all her estimate 
of herself, all her pleasant self-conceit. Quietly, with 
downcast eyes, she went her way. 


HER first case was in Brown's Buildings itself a 
woman suffering from bronchitis and heart complaint, 
and tormented besides by an ulcerated foot which 
Marcella had now dressed daily for some weeks. She 
lived on the top floor of one of the easterly blocks, with 
two daughters and a son of eighteen. 

When Marcella entered the little room it was as 
usual spotlessly clean and smelt of flowers. The 
windows were open, and a young woman was busy 
shirt-ironing on a table in the centre of the room. 
Both she and her mother looked up with smiles as 
Marcella entered. Then they introduced her with 
some ceremony to a 'lady/ who was sitting beside the 
patient, a long-faced, melancholy woman employed at 
the moment in marking linen handkerchiefs, which 
she did with extraordinary fineness and delicacy. 
The patient and her daughter spoke of Marcella to 
their friend as 'the young person/ but all with a 
natural courtesy and charm that could not have been 

Marcella knelt to undo the wrappings of the foot. 
The woman, a pale, transparent creature, winced 
painfully as the dressing was drawn off; but between 
each half-stifled moan of pain, she said something 
eager and grateful to her nurse. 'I never knew arty 
one, Nurse, do it as gentle as you ' or 'I do take it 
kind of you, Nurse, to do it so slow oh ! there were 
[ H8 ] 


a young person before you ' or 'has n't she got nice 
hands, Mrs. Burton? they don't never seem to jar 

'Poor foot! but I think it is looking better,' said 
Marcella, getting up at last from her work, when all 
was clean and comfortable and she had replaced the 
foot on the upturned wooden box that supported it 

- for its owner was not in bed, but sitting propped 
up in an old armchair. 'And how is your cough, 
Mrs. Jervis?' 

'Oh! it's very bad, nights/ said Mrs. Jervis, mildly 

- 'disturbs Emily dreadful. But I always pray every 
night, when she lifts me into bed, as I may be took 
before the morning, an God 'ull do it soon/ 

'Mother!' cried Emily, pausing in her ironing, 
'you know you ought n't to say them things.' 

Mrs. Jervis looked at her with a sly cheerfulness. 
Her emaciated face was paler than usual because of 
the pain of the dressing, but from the frail form there 
breathed an indomitable air of life, a gay courage in- 
deed which had already struck Marcella with wonder. 

'Well, yer not to take 'em to heart, Em'ly. It 'ull 
be when it will be for the Lord likes us to pray, 
but He'll take his own time an she's got troubles 
enough of her own, Nurse. D'yer see as she's leff off 
her ring?' 

Marcella looked at Emily's left hand, while the girl 
flushed all over, and ironed with a more fiery energy 
than before. 

'I've 'eerd such things of 'im, Nurse, this last two 
days,' she said, with low vehemence 'as I'm never 
goin to wear it again. It 'ud burn me!' 



Emily was past twenty. Some eighteen months 
before this date she had married a young painter. 
After nearly a year of incredible misery her baby was 
born. It died, and she very nearly died also, owing to 
the brutal ill-treatment of her husband. As soon as 
she could get on her feet again, she tottered home to 
her widowed mother, broken for the time in mind and 
body, and filled with loathing of her tyrant. He made 
no effort to recover her, and her family set to work to 
mend if they could what he had done. The younger 
sister of fourteen was earning seven shillings a week 
at paper-bag making; the brother, a lad of eighteen, 
had been apprenticed by his mother, at the cost of 
heroic efforts some six years before, to the leather- 
currying trade, in a highly skilled branch of it, and 
was now taking sixteen shillings a week, with the 
prospect of far better things in the future. He at 
once put aside from his earnings enough to teach 
Emily 'the shirt-ironing/ denying himself every in- 
dulgence till her training was over. 

Then they had their reward. Emily's colour and 
spirits came back ; her earnings made all the difference 
to the family between penury and ease ; while she and 
her little sister kept the three tiny rooms in which 
they lived, and waited on their invalid mother, with 
exquisite cleanliness and care. 

Marcella stood by the ironing-table a moment after 
the girl's speech. 

'Poor Emily!' she said, softly, laying her hand on 
the ringless one that held down the shirt on the board. 

Emily looked up at her in silence. But the girl's 
eyes glowed with things unsaid and inexpressible 
F 120 1 


the 'eternal passion, eternal pain/ which in half the 
human race have no voice. 

'He was a very rough man was Em'ly's husband/ 
said Mrs. Jervis, in her delicate, thoughtful voice - 
'a very uncultivated man/ 

Marcella turned round to her, startled and amused 
by the adjective. But the other two listeners took it 
quite quietly. It seemed to them apparently to ex- 
press what had to be said. 

'It's a sad thing is want of edication/ Mrs. Jervis 
went on in the same tone. 'Now, there's that lady 
there' with a little courtly wave of her hand 
towards Mrs. Burton 'she can't read, yer know, 
Nurse, and I 'm that sorry for her ! But I 've been 
reading to her, an Emily just while my cough 's 
quiet one of my ole tracks/ 

She held up a little paper-covered tract worn with 
use. It was called 'A Penn'orth of Grace, or a Pound 
of Works?' Marcella looked at it in respectful silence 
as she put on her cloak. Such things were not in her 

'I do love a track!' said Mrs. Jervis, pensively. 
'That's why I don't like these buildings so well as 
them others, Em'ly. Here you never get no tracks; 
and there, what with one person and another, there 
was a new one most weeks. But ' - - her voice dropped, 
and she looked timidly first at her friend, and then at 
Marcella 'she isn't a Christian, Nurse. Is n't it sad?' 

Mrs. Burton, a woman of a rich mahogany com- 
plexion, with a black 'front/ and a mouth which 
turned down decisively at the corners, looked up from 
her embroidery with severe composure. 
[ 121 1 


'No, Nurse, I'm not a Christian/ she said, in the 
tone of one stating a disagreeable fact for which they 
are noways responsible. 'My brother is and my 
sisters real good Christian people. One of my sisters 
married a gentleman up in Wales. She 'as two serv- 
ants, an fam'ly prayers reg'lar. But I've never felt 
no "call," and I tell 'em I can't purtend. An Mrs. 
Jervis here, she don't seem to make me see it no 

She held her head erect, however, as though the 
unusually high sense of probity involved was, after 
all, some consolation. Mrs. Jervis looked at her with 
pathetic eyes. But Emily coloured hotly. Emily was 
a Churchwoman. 

'Of course you're a Christian, Mrs. Burton,' she 
said, indignantly. 'What she means, Nurse, is she 
isn't a "member" of any chapel, like mother. But 
she's been baptised and confirmed, for I asked her. 
And of course she's a Christian.' 

'Em'ly!' said Mrs. Jervis, with energy. 

Emily looked round trembling. The delicate invalid 
was sitting bolt upright, her eyes sparkling, a spot of 
red on either hollow cheek. The glances of the two 
women crossed; there seemed to be a mute struggle 
between them. Then Emily laid down her iron, stepped 
quickly across to her mother, and kneeling beside her, 
threw her arms around her. 

'Have it your own way, mother,' she said, while 
her lip quivered; 'I was n't a-goin to cross you.' 

Mrs. Jervis laid her waxen cheek against her daugh- 
ter's tangle of brown hair with a faint smile, while 
her breathing, which had grown quick and panting, 


gradually subsided. Emily looked up at Marcella with 
a terrified self-reproach. They all knew that any sud- 
den excitement might kill out the struggling flame of 

'You ought to rest a little, Mrs. Jervis,' said Mar- 
cella, with gentle authority. 'You know the dressing 
must tire you, though you won't confess it. Let me 
put you comfortable. There ; are n't the pillows easier 
so? Now rest and good-bye/ 

But Mrs. Jervis held her, while Emily slipped away. 

'I shall rest soon,' she said, significantly. 'An it 
hurts me when Emily talks like that. It's the only 
thing that ever comes atween us. She thinks o' forms 
an ceremonies; an I think o' grace.' 

Her old woman's eyes, so clear and vivid under the 
blanched brow, searched Marcella 's face for sympathy. 
But Marcella stood, shy and wondering in the presence 
of words and emotions she understood so little. So 
narrow a life, in these poor rooms, under these crip- 
pling conditions of disease ! and all this preoccupa- 
tion with, this passion over, the things not of the 
flesh, the thwarted, cabined flesh, but of the spirit - 
wonderful ! 

On coming out from Brown's Buildings, she turned 
her steps reluctantly towards a street some distance 
from her own immediate neighbourhood, where she 
had a visit to pay which filled her with repulsion and 
an unusual sense of helplessness. A clergyman who 
often availed himself of the help of the St. Martin's 
nurses had asked the superintendent to undertake for 
him 'a difficult case.' Would one of their nurses go 
[ 123 ] 


regularly to visit a certain house, ostensibly for the 
sake of a little boy of five just come back from the 
hospital, who required care at home for a while, really 
for the sake of his young mother, who had suddenly 
developed drinking habits and was on the road to 

Marcella happened to be in the office when the letter 
arrived. She somewhat unwillingly accepted the task, 
and she had now paid two or three visits, always 
dressing the child's sore leg, and endeavouring to 
make acquaintance with the mother. But in this last 
attempt she had not had much success. Mrs. Vincent 
was young and pretty, with a flighty, restless manner. 
She was always perfectly civil to Marcella, and grate- 
ful to her apparently for the ease she gave the boy. 
But she offered no confidences ; the rooms she and her 
husband occupied showed them to be well-to-do ; Mar- 
cella had so far found them well kept; and though 
the evil she was sent to investigate was said to be 
notorious, she had as yet discovered nothing of it for 
herself. It seemed to her that she must be either 
stupid, or that there must be something about her 
which made Mrs. Vincent more secretive with her 
than with others ; and neither alternative pleased her. 

To-day, however, as she stopped at the Vincents' 
door, she noticed that the doorstep, which was as a 
rule shining white, was muddy and neglected. Then 
nobody came to open, though she knocked and rang 
repeatedly. At last a neighbour, who had been watch- 
ing the strange nurse through her own parlour win- 
dow, came out to the street. 

'I think, Miss/ she said, with an air of polite mys- 
[ 124 ] 


tery, 'as you'd better walk in. Mrs. Vincent 'as n't 
been enjyin very good 'ealth this last few days.' 

Marcella turned the handle, found it yielded, and 
went in. It was after six o'clock, and the evening sun 
streamed in through a door at the back of the house. 
But in the Vincents' front parlour the blinds were all 
pulled down, and the only sound to be heard was the 
fretful wailing of a child. Marcella timidly opened the 
sitting-room door. 

The room at first seemed to her dark. Then she 
perceived Mrs. Vincent sitting by the grate, and the 
two children on the floor beside her. The elder, the 
little invalid, was simply staring at his mother in a 
wretched silence ; but the younger, the baby of three, 
was restlessly throwing himself hither and thither, 
now pulling at the woman's skirts, now crying lustily, 
now whining in a hungry voice, for 'Mama! din-din! 
Mama! din-din!' 

Mrs. Vincent neither moved nor spoke, even when 
Marcella came in. She sat with her hands hanging 
over her lap in a desolation incapable of words. She 
was dirty and unkempt; the room was covered with 
litter; the breakfast- things were still on the table; and 
the children were evidently starving. 

Marcella, seized with pity, and divining what had 
happened, tried to rouse and comfort her. But she 
got no answer. Then she asked for matches. Mrs. 
Vincent made a mechanical effort to find them, but 
subsided helpless with a shake of the head. At last 
Marcella found them herself, lit a fire of some sticks 
she discovered in a cupboard, and put on the kettle. 
Then she cut a slice of bread and dripping for each 


of the children the only eatables she could find 
and after she had dressed Bertie's leg she began to 
wash up the tea-things and tidy the room, not know- 
ing very well what to be at, but hoping minute by 
minute to get Mrs. Vincent to speak to her. 

In the midst of her labours, an elderly woman 
cautiously opened the door and beckoned to her. 

Marcella went out into the passage. 

' I 'm her mother, Miss ! I 'eered you were 'ere, an 
I follered yer. Oh! such a business as we 'ad, 'er 
'usband an me, a-gettin of 'er 'ome last night. There's 
a neighbour come to me, an she says: "Mrs. Lucas, 
there's your daughter a-drinkin in that public- 'ouse, 
an if I was you I'd go and fetch her out; for she's 
got a lot o' money, an she's treatin everybody all 
round." An Charlie that's 'er 'usband 'ee come 
along too, an between us we got holt on her. An 
iver sence we brought her 'ome last night, she set 
there in that cheer, an niver a word to nobody! 
Not to me 't any rate, nor the chillen. I believe 'er 
'usband an 'er 'ad words this mornin. But she won't 
tell me nothin. .She sits there just heart-broke' 
- the woman put up her apron to her eyes and began 
crying. 'She ain't eatin nothink all day, an I durse n't 
leave the 'ouse out o' me sight I lives close by, Miss 
-for fear of 'er doing 'erself a mischief.' 

'How long has she been like this?' said Marcella, 
drawing the door cautiously to behind her. 

'About fourteen month,' said the woman, hope- 
lessly. 'An none of us knows why. She was such a 
neat, pretty girl when she married 'im an 'ee such 
a steady fellow. An I 've done my best. I ' ve talked 
[ 126 ] 


to 'er, an I've 'id 'er 'at an her walking- things, an 
taken 'er money out of 'er pockets. An, bless yer, 
she's been all right now for seven weeks till last 
night. Oh, deary, deary me! whatever 'ull become 
o' them 'er, an 'im, an the children!' 

The tears coursed down the mother's wrinkled face. 

'Leave her to me a little longer,' said Marcella, 
softly; 'but come back to me in about half an hour, 
and don't let her be alone/ 

The woman nodded, and went away. 

Mrs. Vincent turned quickly round as Marcella came 
back again, and spoke for the first time : 

'That was my mother you were talkin to?' 

'Yes,' said Marcella, quietly, as she took the kettle 
off the fire. 'Now I do want you to have a cup of tea, 
Mrs. Vincent. Will you, if I make it?' 

The poor creature did not speak, but she followed 
Marcella's movements with her weary eyes. At last 
when Marcella knelt down beside her holding out a 
cup of tea and some bread-and-butter, she gave a 
sudden cry. Marcella hastily put down what she car- 
ried, lest it should be knocked out of her hand. 

'He struck me this morning! Charlie did the 
first time in seven years. Look here!' 

She pulled up her sleeve, and on her white, delicate 
arm she showed a large bruise. As she pointed to it 
her eyes filled with miserable tears ; her lips quivered ; 
anguish breathed in every feature. Yet even in this 
abasement Marcella was struck once more with her 
slim prettiness, her refined air. This woman drinking 
and treating in a low public-house at midnight ! 
rescued thence by a decent husband ! 


She soothed her as best she could, but when she 
had succeeded in making the wretched soul take food, 
and so in putting some physical life into her, she 
found herself the recipient of an outburst of agony 
before which she quailed. The woman clung to her, 
moaning about her husband, about the demon instinct 
that had got hold of her, she hardly knew how by 
means it seemed originally of a few weeks of low 
health and small self-indulgences and she felt her- 
self powerless to fight; about the wreck she had 
brought upon her home, the shame upon her husband, 
who was the respected, well-paid foreman of one of the 
large shops of the neighbourhood. All through it 
came back to him. 

'We had words, Nurse, this morning, when he went 
out to his work. He said he'd nearly died of shame 
last night ; that he could n't bear it no more ; that he'd 
take the children from me. And I was all queer in 
the head still, and I sauced him and then he 
looked like a devil and he took me by the arm - 
and threw me down as if I'd been a sack. An he 
never, never touched me before in all his life. 
An he's never come in all day. An perhaps I shan't 
ever see him again. An last time but it was n't so 
bad as this he said he'd try an love me again if 
I 'd behave. An he did try and I tried too. But 
now it's no good, an perhaps he'll not come back. 
Oh, what shall I do? what shall I do?' she flung her 
arms above her head. 'Won't anybody find him? 
won't anybody help me?' 

She dropped a hand upon Marcella's arm, clutching 
it, her wild eyes seeking her companion's. 
[ 128 ] 


But at the same moment, with the very extremity 
of her own emotion, a cloud of impotence fell upon 
Marcella. She suddenly felt that she could do nothing 
- that there was nothing in her adequate to such an 
appeal nothing strong enough to lift the weight of 
a human life thus flung upon her. 

She was struck with a dryness, a numbness, that 
appalled her. She tried still to soothe and comfort, 
but nothing that she said went home took hold. 
Between the feeling in her heart which might have 
reached and touched this despair, and the woman 
before her, there seemed to be a barrier she could not 
break. Or was it that she was really barren and poor 
in soul, and had never realised it before? A strange 
misery rose in her too, as she still knelt, tending and 
consoling, but with no efficacy no power. 

At last Mrs. Vincent sank into miserable quiet again. 
The mother came in, and silently began to put the 
children to bed. Marcella pressed the wife's cold 
hand, and went out hanging her head. She had just 
reached the door when it opened, and a man entered. 
A thrill passed through her at the sight of his honest, 
haggard face, and this time she found what to say. 

' I have been sitting by your wife, Mr. Vincent. She 
is very ill and miserable, and very penitent. You will 
be kind to her?' 

The husband looked at her, and then turned away. 

'God help us!' he said; and Marcella went without 
another word, and with that same wild, unaccustomed 
impulse of prayer filling her being which had first 
stirred in her at Mellor at the awful moment of Kurd's 

[ 129 ] 


She was very silent and distracted at tea, and after- 
wards saying that she must write some letters and 
reports she shut herself up, and bade good-night to 
Minta and the children. 

But she did not write or read. She hung at the 
window a long time, watching the stars come out, as 
the summer light died from the sky, and even the walls 
and roofs and chimneys of this interminable London 
spread out before her took a certain dim beauty. And 
then, slipping down on the floor, with her head against 
a chair an attitude of her stormy childhood she 
wept with an abandonment and a passion she had not 
known for years. She thought of Mrs. Jervis the 
saint so near to death, so satisfied with 'grace/ 
so steeped in the heavenly life; then of the poor 
sinner she had just left and of the agony she had no 
power to stay. Both experiences had this in common 
that each had had some part in plunging her deeper 
into this darkness of self -contempt. 

What had come to her? During the past weeks 
there had been something wrestling in her some 
new birth some 'conviction of sin/ as Mrs. Jervis 
would have said. As she looked back over all her 
strenuous youth she hated it. What was wrong with 
her? Her own word to Anthony Craven returned upon 
her, mocked her made now a scourge for her own 
pride, not a mere measure of blame for others. Aldous 
Raeburn, her father and mother, her poor one and all 
rose against her plucked at her reproached her. 
'Aye! what, indeed, are wealth and poverty? 7 cried 
a voice, which was the voice of them all; 'what 
are opinions what is influence, beauty, clever- 
[ 130 ] 


ness? what is anything worth but character but 

And character soul can only be got by self- 
surrender ; and self -surrender comes not of knowledge 
but of love. 

A number of thoughts and phrases, hitherto of 
little meaning to her, floated into her mind sank 
and pressed there. That strange word 'grace/ for 
instance ! 

A year ago it would not have smitten or troubled 
her. After her first inevitable reaction against the 
evangelical training of her school years, the rebellious 
cleverness of youth had easily decided that religion 
was played out, that Socialism and Science were 
enough for mankind. 

But nobody could live in hospital nobody could 
go among the poor nobody could share the thoughts 
and hopes of people like Edward Hallin and his sister, 
without understanding that it is still here in the 
world this ' grace ' that ' sustaineth ' however 
variously interpreted, still living and working, as it 
worked of old, among the little Galilean towns, in 
Jerusalem, in Corinth. To Edward Hallin it did not 
mean the same, perhaps, as it meant to the hard- 
worked clergymen she knew, or to Mrs. Jervis. But 
to all it meant the motive-power of life something 
subduing, transforming, delivering something that 
to-night she envied with a passion and a yearning 
that amazed herself. 

How many things she craved, as an eager child 
craves them ! First some moral change, she knew not 
what then Aldous Raeburn's pardon and friendship 


- then and above all, the power to lose herself the 
power to love. 

Dangerous significant moment in a woman's life 
moment. at once of despair and of illusion! 


was sitting in a secluded corner of the 
library of the House of Commons. He had a number 
of loose sheets of paper on a chair beside him, and 
others in his hand and on his knee. It was Friday 
afternoon ; questions were going on in the House ; and 
he was running rapidly for the last time through the 
notes of his speech, pencilling here and there, and 
every now and then taking up a volume of Hansard 
that lay near, that he might verify a quotation. 

An old county member, with a rugged face and eye- 
glasses, who had been in Parliament for a generation, 
came to the same corner to look up a speech. He 
glanced curiously at Wharton, with whom he had a 
familiar, House-of -Commons acquaintance. 

'Nervous, eh?' he said, as he put on his eye-glasses 
to inspect first Wharton, then the dates on the backs 
of the Reports. 

Wharton put his papers finally together, and gave 
a long stretch. 

'Not particularly/ 

'Well, it's a beastly audience!' said the other, carry- 
ing off his book. 

Wharton, lost apparently in contemplation of the 
ceiling, fell into a dreamy attitude. But his eye saw 
nothing of the ceiling, and was not at all dreamy. He 
was not thinking of his speech, nor of the other man's 
remark. He was thinking of Marcella Boyce. 
[ 133 ] 


When he left her the other day he had been con- 
scious, only more vividly and intensely, more possess- 
ively as it were, than she, of the same general im- 
pression that had been left upon her. A new opening 
for pleasure their meeting presented itself to him, 
too, in the same way. -What had he been about all 
this time? Forget? such a creature? Why, it was 
the merest wantonness ! As if such women with 
such a brow, such vitality, such a gait passed in 
every street ! 

What possessed him now was an imperious eager- 
ness to push the matter, to recover the old intimacy 
and as to what might come out of it, let the gods 
decide ! He could have had but a very raw apprecia- 
tion of her at Mellor. It seemed to him that she 
had never forced him to think of her then in ab- 
sence, as he had thought of her since the last 

As for the nursing business, and the settlement in 
Brown's Buildings, it was, of course, mere play-acting. 
No doubt when she emerged she would be all the 
more of a personage for having done it. But she 
must emerge soon. To rule and shine was as much 
her metier as it was the metier of a bricklayer's labourer 
to carry hods. By George! what would not Lady 
Selina give for beauty of such degree and kind as 
that! They must be brought together. He already 
foresaw that the man who should launch Marcella 
Boyce in London would play a stroke for himself as 
well as for her. And she must be launched in London. 
Let other people nurse, and pitch their tents in little 
workmen's flats, and live democracy instead of preach- 
[ 134 ] 


ing it. Her fate was fixed for her by her physique. 
II ne faut pas sortir de son caractere. 

The sight of Bennett approaching distracted him. 

Bennett's good face showed obvious vexation. 

'He sticks to it/ he said, as Wharton jumped up 
to meet him. 'Talks of his conscience and a lot of 
windy stuff. He seems to have arranged it with the 
Whips. I dare say he won't do much harm/ 

'Except to himself/ said Wharton, with dry bitter- 
ness. ' Goodness ! let 's leave him alone ! ' 

He and Bennett lingered a few minutes discussing 
points of tactics. Wilkins had, of course, once more 
declared himself the enfant terrible of a party which, 
though still undefined, was drawing nearer day by 
day to organised existence and separate leadership. 
The effect of to-night's debate might be of far-reach- 
ing importance. Wharton 's Resolution, pledging the 
House to a Legal Eight Hours' Day for all trades, 
came at the end of a long and varied agitation, was 
at the moment in clear practical relation to labour 
movements all over the country, and had in fact 
gained greatly in significance and interest since it 
was first heard of in public, owing to events of cur- 
rent history. Workable proposals a moderate tone 
- and the appearance, at any rate, of harmony and 
a united front among the representatives of Labour 
if so much at least could be attained to-night, both 
Wharton and Bennett believed that not only the 
cause itself, but the importance of the Labour party 
in the House would be found to have gained enor- 

'I hope I shall get my turn before dinner/ said 
[ 135 ] 


Bennett, as he was going; 'I want badly to get off 
for an hour or so. The division won't be till half -past 
ten at earliest/ 

Wharton stood for a moment in a brown study, 
with his hands in his pockets, after Bennett left him. 
It was by no means wholly clear to him what line 
Bennett would take with regard to one or two 
points. After a long acquaintance with the little 
man, Wharton was not always, nor indeed generally, 
at his ease with him. Bennett had curious reserves. 
As to his hour off, Wharton felt tolerably certain that 
he meant to go and hear a famous Revivalist preacher 
hold forth at a public hall not far from the House. 
The streets were full of placards. 

Well ! to every man his own excitements ! What 
time? He looked first at his watch, then at the 
marked question paper Bennett had left behind him. 
The next minute he was hurrying along passages and 
stairs, with his springing, boyish step, to the Ladies' 

The magnificent doorkeeper saluted him with par- 
ticular deference. Wharton was in general a favourite 
with officials. 

'The two ladies are come, sir. You'll find them 
in the front oh! not very full yet, sir will be 
directly/ * 

Wharton drew aside the curtain of the gallery, and 
looked in. Yes ! there was the dark head bent 
forward, pressed indeed against the grating which 
closes the front of the den into which the House of 
Commons puts its ladies as though its owner 
were already absorbed in what was passing before her. 
[ 136 ] 


She looked up with an eager start, as she heard 
his voice in her ear. 

' Oh ! now, come and tell us everything and who 
everybody is. Why don't we see the Speaker? and 
which is the Government side? oh yes, I see. And 
who's this speaking now?' 

' Why, I thought you knew everything/ said Whar- 
ton, as, with a greeting to Miss Craven, he slipped in 
beside them and took a still vacant chair for an in- 
stant. 'How shall I instruct a Speaker's great-niece?' 

'Why, of course I feel as if the place belonged to 
me!' said Marcella, impatiently; 'but that somehow 
does n't seem to help me to people's names. Where's 
Mr. Gladstone? Oh, I see. Look, look, Edith! he's 
just come in! oh, don't be so superior, though you 
have been here before you could n't tell me heaps 
of people!' 

Her voice had a note of joyous excitement like a 

'That's because I'm short-sighted,' said Edith 
Craven, calmly; 'but it's no reason why you should 
show me Mr. Gladstone.' 

' Oh, my dear, my dear ! do be quiet ! Now, Mr. 
Wharton, where are the Irishmen? Oh! I wish we 
could have an Irish row! And where do you sit?- 
I see and there's Mr. Bennett and that black- 
faced man, Mr. Wilkins, I met at the Hallins' you 
don't like him, do you?' she said, drawing back and 
looking at him sharply. 

'Who? Wilkins? Perhaps you'd better ask me that 
question later on ! ' said Wharton, with a twist of the 
lip; 'he's going to do his best to make a fool of him- 
[ 137 ] 


self and us to-night we shall see! It's kind of you 
to wish us an Irish row ! considering that if I miss 
my chance to-night I shall never get another ! ' 

'Then for Heaven's sake don't let's wish it!' she 
said, decidedly. 'Oh, that's the Irish Secretary an- 
swering now, is it?' a pause ' Dear me, how civil 
everybody is. I don't think this is a good place for 
a democrat, Mr. Wharton I find myself terribly in 
love with the Government. But who's that?' 

She craned her neck. Wharton was silent. The next 
instant she drew hurriedly back. 

'I did n't see/ she murmured; 'it's so confus- 

A tall man had risen from the end of the Govern- 
ment bench, and was giving an answer connected 
with the Home Secretary's department. For the first 
time since their parting in the Mellor drawing-room 
Marcella saw Aldous Raeburn. 

She fell very silent, and leant back in her chair. 
Yet Wharton 's quick glance perceived that she both 
looked and listened intently, so long as the somewhat 
high-pitched voice was speaking. 

'He does those things very well,' he said, carelessly, 
judging it best to take the bull by the horns. 'Never 
a word too much they don't get any change out of 
him. Do you see that old fellow in the white beard 
under the gallery? He is one of the chartered bores. 
When he gets up to-night the House will dine. I 
shall come up and look for you, and hand you over to 
a friend if I may a Staffordshire member, who has 
his wife here Mrs. Lane. I have engaged a table, 
and I can start with you. Unfortunately I must n't 
[ 138 ] 


be long out of the House, as it's my motion ; but they 
will look after you/ 

The girls glanced a little shyly at each other. No- 
thing had been said about dining; but Wharton took 
it for granted ; and they yielded. It was Marcella 's 
'day off/ and she was a free woman. 

'Good-bye, then/ he said, getting up. 'I shall be 
on in about twenty minutes. Wish me well through!' 

Marcella looked round and smiled. But her vivacity 
had been quenched for the moment; and Wharton 
departed not quite so well heartened for the fray as 
he could have wished to be. It was hard luck that 
the Raeburn ghost should walk this particular even- 

Marcella bent forward again when he had gone, and 
remained for long silent, looking down into the rap- 
idly filling House. Aldous Raeburn was lying back 
on the Treasury bench, his face upturned. She knew 
very well that it was impossible he should see her; 
yet every now and then she shrank a little away as 
though he must. The face looked to her older and 
singularly blanched; but she supposed that must be 
the effect of the light ; for she noticed the same pallor 
in many others. 

'All that my life can do to pour good measure 
pressed down running over into yours, I vowed you 

The words stole into her memory, throbbing there 
like points of pain. Was it indeed this man under 
her eyes so listless, so unconscious who had said 
them to her with a passion of devotion it shamed 
her to think of? 

[ 139 ] 


And now never so much as an ordinary word of 
friendship between them again? 'On the broad seas 
of life enisled '- separate, estranged, for ever? It 
was like the touch of death the experience brought 
with it such a chill such a sense of irreparable fact, 
of limitations never to be broken through. 

.Then she braced herself. The 'things that are be- 
hind' must be left. To have married him after all 
would have been the greatest wrong. Nor, in one 
sense, was what she had done irreparable. She chose 
to believe Frank Leven, rather than Edward Hallin. 
Of course he must and should marry ! It was absurd 
to suppose that he should not. No one had a stronger 
sense of family than he. And as for the girl the 
little dancing, flirting girl ! why the thing happened 
every day. His wife should not be too strenuous, 
taken up with problems and questions of her own. 
She should cheer, amuse, distract him. Marcella en- 
deavoured to think of it all with the dry common 
sense her mother would have applied to it. One thing 
at least was clear to her the curious recognition 
that never before had she considered Aldous Raeburn, 
in and for himself, as an independent human being. 

'He was just a piece of furniture in my play last 
year/ she said to herself with a pang of frank remorse. 
'He was well quit of me!' 

But she was beginning to recover her spirits, and 
when at last Raeburn, after a few words with a 
Minister who had just arrived, disappeared suddenly 
behind the Speaker's chair, the spectacle below her 
seized her with the same fascination as before. 

The House was filling rapidly. Questions were nearly 
[ 140 ] 


over, and the speech of the evening, on which con- 
siderable public expectation both inside and outside 
Parliament had been for some time concentrated, was 
fast approaching. Peers were straggling into the gal- 
lery ; the reporters were changing just below her, and 
some 'crack hands' among them, who had been loung- 
ing till now, were beginning to pay attention and put 
their paper in order. The Irish benches, the Opposi- 
tion, the Government all were full, and there was 
a large group of members round the door. 

'There he is!' cried Marcella, involuntarily, with a 
pulse of excitement, as Wharton's light young figure 
made its way through the crowd. He sat down 
on a corner seat below the gangway and put on his 

In five minutes more he was on his feet, speaking 
to an attentive and crowded House in a voice clear, 
a little hard, but capable of the most accomplished 
and subtle variety which for the first moment sent 
a shudder of memory through Marcella. 

Then she found herself listening with as much trepi- 
dation and anxiety as though some personal interest 
and reputation depended for her, too, on the success 
of the speech. Her mind was first invaded by a strong, 
an irritable sense of the difficulty of the audience. 
How was it possible for any one, unless he had been 
trained to it for years, to make any effect upon such 
a crowd ! so irresponsive, individualist, unf used - 
so lacking, as it seemed to the raw spectator, in the 
qualities and excitements that properly belong to mul- 
titude! Half the men down below, under their hats, 
seemed to her asleep ; the rest indifferent. And were 


those languid, indistinguishable murmurs what the 
newspapers call 'cheers"! 

But the voice below flowed on; point after point 
came briskly out ; the atmosphere warmed ; and pre- 
sently this first impression passed into one wholly 
different nay, at the opposite pole. Gradually the 
girl's ardent sense informed, perhaps, more richly 
than most women's with the memories of history and 
literature, for in her impatient way she had been at 
all times a quick, omnivorous reader awoke to the 
peculiar conditions, the special thrill, attaching to the 
place and its performers. The philosopher derides it ; 
the man of letters out of the House talks of it with a 
smile as a 'Ship of Fools' ; both, when occasion offers, 
passionately desire a seat in it; each would give his 
right hand to succeed in it. 

Why? Because here after all is power here is 
the central machine. Here are the men who, both by 
their qualities and their defects, are to have for their 
span of life the leading or the wrecking? of this 
great fate-bearing force, this 'weary Titan' we call 
our country. Here things are not only debated, but 
done lamely or badly, perhaps, but still done 
which will affect our children's children; which link 
us to the Past ; which carry us on safely or dangerously 
to a Future only the gods know. And in this passage, 
this chequered, doubtful passage from thinking to 
doing, an infinite savour and passion of life is some- 
how disengaged. It penetrates through the boredom, 
through all the failure, public and personal; it en- 
wraps the spectacle and the actors; it carries and 
supports patriot and adventurer alike. 
[ 142 ] 


Ideas, perceptions of this kind the first chill 
over stole upon and conquered Marcella. Presently 
it was as though she had passed into Wharton's place, 
was seeing with his eyes, feeling with his nerves. It 
would be a success this speech it was a success ! 
The House was gained, was attentive. A case long 
familiar to it in portions and fragments, which had 
been spoilt by violence and discredited by ignorance, 
was being presented to it with all the resources of 
a great talent with brilliancy, moderation, practical 
detail moderation above all ! From the slight his- 
torical sketch, with which the speech opened, of the 
English 'working-day/ the causes and the results of 
the Factory Acts through the general description 
of the present situation, of the workman's present 
hours, opportunities, and demands, the growth of the 
desire for State control, the machinery by which it 
was to be enforced, and the effects it might be ex- 
pected to have on the workman himself, on the great 
army of the 'unemployed/ on wages, on production, 
and on the economic future of England the speaker 
carried his thread of luminous speech, without ever 
losing his audience for an instant. At every point he 
addressed himself to the smoothing of difficulties, to 
the propitiation of fears; and when, after the long 
and masterly handling of detail, he came to his 
peroration, to the bantering of capitalist terrors, to 
the vindication of the workman's claim to fix, the 
conditions of his labour, and to the vision lightly 
and simply touched of the regenerate working home 
of the future, inhabited by free men, dedicated to 
something beyond the first brutal necessities of the 
.[ 143 ] 


bodily life, possessed indeed of its proper share of 
the human inheritance of leisure, knowledge, and 
delight the crowded benches before and behind 
him grudged him none of it. The House of Commons 
is not tolerant of 'flights/ except from its chartered 
masters. But this young man had earned his flight; 
and they heard him patiently. For the rest, the 
Government had been most attractively wooed; and 
the Liberal party in the midst of much plain speaking 
had been treated on the whole with a deference and 
a forbearance that had long been conspicuously lack- 
ing in the utterances of the Labour men. 

* "The mildest mannered man/' et cetera!' said 
a smiling member of the late Government to a com- 
panion on the front Opposition bench, as Wharton 
sat down amid the general stir and movement which 
betoken the break-up of a crowded House, and the 
end of a successful speech which people are eager to 
discuss in the lobbies. 'A fine performance, eh? 
Great advance on anything last year/ 

'Bears about as much relation to facts as I do to the 
angels!' growled the man addressed. 

'What! as bad as that?' said the other, laughing. 
'Look! they have put up old Denny. I think I shall 
stay and hear him/ And he laid down his hat again 
which he had taken up. 

Meanwhile Marcella in the Ladies' Gallery had 
thrown herself back in her chair with a long breath. 

'How can one listen to anything else!' she said; 
and for a long time she sat staring at the House with- 
out hearing a word of what the very competent, 
caustic, and well-informed manufacturer on the 
[ 144 ]. 


Government side was saying. Every dramatic and 
aesthetic instinct she possessed and she was full of 
them had been stirred and satisfied by the speech 
and the speaker. 

But more than that. He had spoken for the toiler 
and the poor; his peroration above all had contained 
tones and accents which were in fact the products of 
something perfectly sincere in the speaker's motley 
personality; and this girl, who in her wild way had 
given herself to the poor, had followed him with all 
her passionate heart. Yet, at the same time, with an 
amount of intellectual dissent every now and then 
as to measures and methods, a scepticism of detail 
which astonished herself ! A year before she had been 
as a babe beside him, whether in matters of pure 
mind or of worldly experience. Now she was for the 
first time conscious of a curious growth inde- 

But the intellectual revolt, such as it was, was lost 
again, as soon as it arose, in the general impression 
which the speech had left upon her in this warm 
quickening of the pulses, this romantic interest in 
the figure, the scene, the young emerging person- 

Edith Craven looked at her with wondering amuse- 
ment. She and her brothers were typical Venturists 
a little cynical, therefore, towards all the world, 
friend or foe. A Venturist is a Socialist minus cant, 
and a cause which cannot exist at all without a passion 
of sentiment lays it down through him as a first 
law, that sentiment in public is the abominable thing. 
Edith Craven thought that after all Marcella was little 
[ 145 ] 


less raw and simple now than she had been in the old 

'There! 7 said Marcella, with relief, 'that's done. 
Now, who's this? That man Wilkins!' 

Her tone showed her disgust. Wilkins had sprung 
up the instant Wharton's Conservative opponent had 
given the first decisive sign of sitting down. An- 
other man on the same side was also up, but Wilkins, 
black and frowning, held his own stubbornly, and his 
rival subsided. 

With the first sentences of the new speech the 
House knew that it was to have an emotion, and men 
came trooping in again. And certainly the short 
stormy utterance was dramatic enough. Dissent on 
the part of an important North-country Union from 
some of the most vital machinery of the Bill which 
had been sketched by Wharton personal jealousy 
and distrust of the mover of the Resolution denial 
of his representative place, and sneers at his kid- 
gloved attempts to help a class with which he had 
nothing to do the most violent protest against the 
servility with which he had truckled to the now effete 
party of free contract and political enfranchisement 
-and the most passionate assertion that between 
any Labour party, worthy of the name, and either 
of the great parties of the past there lay and must 
lie a gulf of hatred, unfathomable and unquenchable, 
till Labour had got its rights, and landlord, em- 
ployer, and dividend-hunter were trampled beneath 
its heel all these ugly or lurid ' things emerged 
with surprising clearness from the torrent of North- 
country speech. For twenty minutes Nehemiah 
[ 146 ] 


Wilkins rioted in one of the best 'times' of his life. 
That he was an orator thousands of working-men 
had borne him witness again and again; and in his 
own opinion he had never spoken better. 

The House at first enjoyed its sensation. Then, as 
the hard words rattled on, it passed easily into the 
stage of amusement. Lady Cradock's burly husband 
bent forward from the front Opposition bench, caught 
Wharton 's eye, and smiled, as though to say: 'What! 
- you have n't even been able to keep up appear- 
ances so far!' And Wilkins's final attack upon the 
Liberals who, after r.uining their own chances and 
the chances of the country, were now come cap in 
hand to the working-man whining for his support as 
their only hope of recovery was delivered to a 
mocking chorus of laughter and cheers, in the midst 
of which, with an angry shake of his great shoulders, 
he flung himself down on his seat. 

Meanwhile Wharton, who had spent the first part 
of Wilkins's speech in a state of restless fidget, his 
hat over his eyes, was alternately sitting erect with 
radiant looks, or talking rapidly to Bennett, who had 
come to sit beside him. The Home Secretary got up 
after Wilkins had sat down, and spent a genial forty 
minutes in delivering the Government non possumus, 
couched, of course, in the tone of deference to King 
Labour which the modern statesman learns at his 
mother's knee, but enlivened with a good deal of 
ironical and effective perplexity as to which hand to 
shake and whose voice to follow, and winding up with 
a tribute of compliment to Wharton, mixed with 
some neat mock condolence with the Opposition 
[ 147 ] 


under the ferocities of some others of its nominal 

Altogether, the finished performance of the old 
stager, the habitue. While it was going on, Marcella 
noticed that Aldous Raeburn had come back again 
to his seat next to the speaker, who was his official 
chief. Every now and then the Minister turned to 
him, and Raeburn handed him a volume of Hansard 
or the copy of some Parliamentary Return whence the 
great man was to quote. Marcella watched every 
movement ; then from the Government bench her eye 
sped across the House to Wharton sitting once more 
buried in his hat, his arms folded in front of him. A 
little shiver of excitement ran through her. The two 
men upon whom her life had so far turned were once 
more in presence of, pitted against, each other and 
she, once more, looking on! 

When the Home Secretary sat down, the House 
was growing restive with thoughts of dinner, and a 
general movement had begun when it was seen 
that Bennett was up. Again men who had gone out 
came back, and those who were still there resigned 
themselves. Bennett was a force in the House, a man 
always listened to and universally respected, and the 
curiosity felt as to the relations between him and this 
new star and would-be leader had been for some time 

When Bennett sat down, the importance of the 
member for West Brookshire, both in the House and 
in the country, had risen a hundred per cent. A man 
who over a great part of the North was in Labour 
concerns the unquestioned master of many legions, 
[ 148 ] 


and whose political position had hitherto been one of 
conspicuous moderation, even to his own hurt, had 
given Wharton the warmest possible backing; had 
endorsed his proposals, to their most contentious and 
doubtful details, and in a few generous though still 
perhaps ambiguous words had let the House see what 
he personally thought of the services rendered to 
Labour as a whole during the past five years, and to 
the weak and scattered group of Labour members in 
particular, since his entrance into Parliament, by the 
young and brilliant man beside him. 

Bennett was no orator. He was a plain man, en- 
nobled by the training of religious dissent, at the same 
time indifferently served often by an imperfect educa- 
tion. But the very simplicity and homeliness of its 
expression gave additional weight to this first avowal 
of a strong conviction that the time had come when 
the Labour party must have separateness and a leader 
if it were to rise out of insignificance; to this frank 
renunciation of whatever personal claims his own past 
might have given him ; and to the promise of unquali- 
fied support to the policy of the younger man, in both 
its energetic and conciliatory aspects. He threw out 
a little not unkindly indignation, if one may be allowed 
the phrase, in the direction of Wilkins who in the 
middle of the speech abruptly walked out and be- 
fore he sat down, the close attention, the looks, the 
cheers, the evident excitement of the men sitting about 
him amongst whom were two-thirds of the whole 
Labour representation in Parliament made it clear 
to the House that the speech marked an epoch not 
only in the career of Harry Wharton, but in the 
[ 149 ] 


parliamentary history of the great industrial move- 

The white-bearded bore under the gallery, whom 
Wharton had pointed out to Marcella, got up as Ben- 
nett subsided. The House streamed out like one man. 
Bennett, exhausted by the heat and the effort, mopped 
his brow with his red handkerchief, and, in the tension 
of fatigue, started as he felt a touch upon his arm. 
Wharton was bending over to him perfectly white, 
with a lip he in vain tried to steady. 

'I can't thank you/ he said, 'I should make a fool 
of myself.' 

Bennett nodded pleasantly, and presently both were 
pressing into the out-going crowd, avoiding each 
other with the ineradicable instinct of the English- 

Wharton did not recover his self-control completely 
till, after an ordeal of talk and handshaking in the 
Lobby, he was on his way to the Ladies' Gallery. Then 
in a flash he found himself filled with the spirits, the 
exhilaration, of a school-boy. This wonderful experi- 
ence behind him ! and upstairs, waiting for him, 
those eyes, that face ! How could he get her to himself 
somehow for a moment and dispose of that Craven 

' Well !' he said to her joyously, as she turned round 
in the darkness of the gallery. 

But she was seized with sudden shyness, and he 
felt, rather than saw, the glow of pleasure and excite- 
ment which possessed her. 

'Don't let's talk here,' she said. 'Can't we go out? 
I am melted!' 

[ 150 ] 


'Yes, of course! Come on to the Terrace. It's 
a divine evening, and we shall find our party there. 
Well, Miss Craven, were you interested?' 

Edith smiled demurely. 

'I thought it a good debate/ she said. 

'Confound these Venturist prigs!' was Wharton's 
inward remark as he led the way. 


How enchanting!' cried Marcella, as they emerged 
on the Terrace, and river, shore, and sky opened upon 
them in all the thousand-tinted light and shade of a 
still and perfect evening. 'Oh, how hot we were- 
and how badly you treat us in those dens ! ' 

Those confident eyes of Wharton's shone as they 
glanced at her. 

She wore a pretty white dress of some cotton stuff 
it seemed to him he remembered it of old and 
on the waving masses of hair lay a little bunch of 
black lace that called itself a bonnet, with black strings 
tied demurely under the chin. The abundance of char- 
acter and dignity in the beauty which yet to-night 
was so young and glowing the rich arresting note 
of the voice the inimitable carriage of the head - 
Wharton realised them all at the moment with pe- 
culiar vividness, because he felt them in some sort 
as additions to his own personal wealth. To-night 
she was in his power, his possession. 

The Terrace was full of people, and alive with a Babel 
of talk. Yet, as he carried his companions forward in 
search of Mrs. Lane, he saw that Marcella was instantly 
marked. Every one who passed them, or made way 
for them, looked and looked again. 

The girl, absorbed in her pleasant or agitating im- 
pressions, knew nothing of her own effect. She was 
drinking in the sunset light the poetic mystery of 


the river the lovely line of the bridge the associa- 
tions of the place where she stood, of this great building 
overshadowing her. Every now and then she started 
in a kind of terror lest some figure in the dusk should 
be Aldous Raeburn; then when a stranger showed 
himself she gave herself up again to her young pleasure 
in the crowd and the spectacle. But Wharton knew 
that she was observed; Wharton caught the whisper 
that followed her. His vanity, already so well fed this 
evening, took the attention given to her as so much 
fresh homage to itself; and she had more and more 
glamour for him in the reflected light of this publicity, 
this common judgement. 

'Ah, here are the Lanes!' he said, detecting at last 
a short lady in black amid a group of men. 

Marcella and Edith were introduced. Then Edith 
found a friend in a young London Member who was 
to be one of the party, and strolled off with him till 
dinner should be announced. 

' I will just take Miss Boyce to the end of the Terrace/ 
said Wharton to Mr. Lane; 'we shan't get anything 
to eat yet a while. What a crowd ! The Alresfords 
not come yet, I see.' 

Lane shrugged his shoulders as he looked round. 

'Raeburn has a party to-night. And there are at 
least three or four others besides ourselves. I should 
think food and service will be equally scarce ! ' 

Wharton glanced quickly at Marcella. But she was 
talking to Mrs. Lane, and had heard nothing. 

'Let me just show you the Terrace,' he said to her. 
'No chance of dinner for another twenty minutes.' 

They strolled away together. As they moved along, 
[ 153 ] 


a number of men waylaid the speaker of the night with 
talk and congratulations glancing the while at the 
lady on his left. But presently they were away from 
the crowd which hung about the main entrance to the 
Terrace, and had reached the comparatively quiet 
western end, where were only a few pairs and groups 
walking up and down. 

'Shall I see Mr. Bennett?' she asked him eagerly, 
as they paused by the parapet, looking down upon the 
grey-brown water swishing under the fast incoming 
tide. 'I want to.' 

' I asked him to dine, but he would n't. He has gone 
to a prayer-meeting at least I guess so. There is a 
famous American evangelist speaking in Westminster 
to-night I am as certain as I ever am of anything 
that Bennett is there dining on Moody and Sankey. 
Men are a medley, don't you think? So you liked 
his speech?' 

' How coolly you ask ! ' she said, laughing. ' Did you ? ' 

He was silent a moment, his smiling gaze fixed on 
the water. Then he turned to her. 

'How much gratitude do you think I owe him?' 

'As much as you can pay,' she said, with emphasis. 
'I never heard anything more complete, more gener- 

'So you were carried away?' 

She looked at him with a curious, sudden gravity 
- a touch of defiance. 

'No! neither by him, nor by you. I don't be- 
lieve in your Bill and I am sure you will never 
carry it!' 

Wharton lifted his eyebrows. 
[ 154 ] 


'Perhaps you'll tell me where you are/ he said, 
* that I may know how to talk ? When we last discussed 
these things at Mellor, I think you were a Socialist? ' 

'What does it matter what I was last year?' she 
asked him gaily, yet with a final inflexion of the voice 
which was not gay; 'I was a baby! Now perhaps I 
have earned a few poor, little opinions but they 
are a ragged bundle and I have never any time 
to sort them/ 

'Have you left the Venturists?' 

'No! but I am full of perplexities; and the Cra- 
vens, I see, will soon be for turning me out. You 
understand I know some working-folk now!' 

'So you did last year.' 

' No ! ' - - she insisted, shaking her head 'that was 
all different. But now I am in their world I live 
with them and they talk to me. One evening in 
the week I am "at home" for all the people I know 
in our Buildings men and women. Mrs. Kurd - 
you know who I mean?' her brow contracted a 
moment 'she comes with her sewing to keep me 
company; so does Edith Craven; and sometimes the 
little room is packed. The men smoke when we 
can have the windows open ! and I believe I shall 
soon smoke too it makes them talk better. We 
get all sorts Socialists, Conservatives, Radicals - 

' And you don't think much of the Socialists?' 

'Well! they are the interesting, dreamy fellows,' 
she said, laughing, 'who don't save, and muddle their 
lives. And as for argument, the Socialist workman 
does n't care twopence for facts that don't suit 
him. It's superb the way he treats them!' 
[ 155 ] 


'I should like to know who does care!' said Whar- 
ton, with a shrug. Then he turned with his back to 
the parapet, the better to command her. He had taken 
off his hat for coolness, and the wind played with the 
crisp curls of hair. 'But tell me' --he went on - 
'who has been tampering with you? Is it Hallin? 
You told me you saw him often/ 

'Perhaps. But what if it's everything? living? 
- saving your presence ! A year ago at any rate the 
world was all black or white to me. Now I lie 
awake at night, puzzling my head about the shades 
between which makes the difference. A compul- 
sory eight hours' day for all men in all trades!' 
Her note of scorn startled him. 'You know you won't 
get it ! And all the other big exasperating things you 
talk about public organisation of labour, and the 
rest you won't get them till all the world is a New 
Jerusalem and when the world is a New Jerusalem 
nobody will want them ! ' 

Wharton made her an ironical bow. 

' Nicely sard ! though we have heard it before. 
Upon my word, you have marched ! or Edward 
Hallin has carried you. So now you think the poor 
are as well off as possible, in the best of all possible 
worlds is that the result of your nursing? You agree 
with Denny, in fact? the man who got up after me?' 

His tone annoyed her. Then suddenly the name 
suggested to her a recollection that brought a frown. 

' That was the man, then, you attacked in the Clarion 
this morning!' 

'Ah! you read me!' said Wharton, with sudden 
pleasure. ' Yes that opened the campaign. As you 
[ 156 ] 


know, of course, Craven has gone down, and the 
strike begins next week. Soon we shall bring two 
batteries to bear, he letting fly as correspondent, and 
I from the office. I enjoyed writing that article/ 

'So I should think/ she said, dryly; 'all I know is, 
it made one reader passionately certain that there 
was another side to the matter ! There may not be. 
I dare say there is n't; but on me at least that was 
the effect. Why is it ' she broke out with vehemence 
- 'that not a single Labour paper is ever capable of 
the simplest justice to an opponent?' 

'You think any other sort of paper is any better?' 
he asked her scornfully. 

' I dare say not. But that does n't matter to me ! 
it is we who talk of justice, of respect, and sym- 
pathy from man to man, and then we go and blacken 
the men who don't agree with us whole classes, 
that is to say, of our fellow-countrymen, not in the 
old honest, slashing style, Tartuffes that we are ! 
but with all the delicate methods of a new art of 
slander, pursued almost for its own sake. We know 
so much better always than our opponents, we 
hardly condescend even to be angry. One is only 
"sorry" -"obliged to punish" like the priggish 
governess of one's childhood!' 

In spite of himself, Wharton flushed. 

' My best thanks ! ' he said. ' Anything more ? I pre- 
fer to take my drubbing all at once.' 

She looked at him steadily. 

'Why did you write, or allow that article on the 
West Brookshire landlords two days ago?' 

Wharton started. 

[ 157 ] 


'Well! was n't it true?' 

'No!' she said, with a curling lip; 'and I think you 
know it was n't true.' 

'What! as to the Raeburns? Upon my word, I 
should have imagined,' he said, slowly, 'that it repre- 
sented your views at one time with tolerable accuracy.' 

Her nerve suddenly deserted her. She bent over 
the parapet, and, taking up a tiny stone that lay near, 
she threw it unsteadily into the river. He saw the 
hand shake. 

'Look here,' he said, turning round so that he too 
leant over the river, his arms on the parapet, his 
voice close to her ear. 'Are you always going to 
quarrel with me like this? Don't you know that 
there is no one in the world I would sooner please if 
I could?' 

She did not speak. 

'In the first place,' he said, laughing, 'as to my 
speech, do you suppose that I believe in that Bill 
which I" described just now?' 

'I don't know,' she said, indignantly, once more 
playing with the stones on the wall. ' It sounded like it.' 

'That is my gift my little carillon, as Renan 
would say. But do you imagine I want you or any 
one else to tell me that we shan't get such a Bill for 
generations? Of course we shan't!' 

'Then why do you make farcical speeches, bam- 
boozling your friends and misleading the House of 

He saw the old storm-signs with glee the light- 
ning in the eye, the rose on the cheek. She was never 
so beautiful as when she was angry. 
[ 158 ] 


'Because, my dear lady we must generate our 
force. Steam must be got up I am engaged in 
doing it. We shan't get a compulsory eight hours' 
day for all trades but in the course of the agita- 
tion for that precious illusion, and by the help of a 
great deal of beating of tom-toms, and gathering of 
clans, we shall get a great many other things by the 
way that we do want. Hearten your friends, and 
frighten your enemies there is no other way of 
scoring in politics and the particular score does n't 
matter. Now don't look at me as if you would like 
to impeach me ! or I shall turn the tables. / am 
still fighting for my illusions in my own way you, 
it seems, have given up yours ! ' 

But for once he had underrated her sense of hum- 
our. She broke into a low merry laugh which a little 
disconcerted him. 

'You mock me?' he said, quickly 'think me 
insincere, unscrupulous? Well, I dare say ! But you 
have no right to mock me. Last year, again and 
again, you promised me guerdon. Now it has come 
to paying and I claim ! ' 

His low distinct voice in her ear had a magnetising 
effect upon her. She slowly turned her face to him, 
overcome by yet fighting against memory. If 
she had seen in him the smallest sign of reference to 
that scene she hated to think of, he would have prob- 
ably lost this hold upon her on the spot. But his tact 
was perfect. She saw nothing but a look of dignity 
and friendship, which brought upon her with a rush 
all those tragic things they had shared and fought 
through, purifying things of pity and fear, which had 
[ 159 ] 


so often seemed to her the atonement for, the washing 
away of that old baseness. 

He saw her face tremble a little. Then she said 
proudly - 

'I promised to be grateful. So I am/ 

'No, no!' he said, still in the same low tone. 'You 
promised me a friend. Where is she?' 

She made no answer. Her hands were hanging 
loosely over the water, and her eyes were fixed on the 
haze opposite, whence emerged the blocks of the great 
hospital and the twinkling points of innumerable 
lamps. But his gaze compelled her at last, and she 
turned back to him. He saw an expression half -hostile, 
half -moved, and pressed on before she could speak. 

'Why do you bury yourself in that nursing-life?' he 
said, dryly. ' It is not the life for you ; it does not fit 
you in the least.' 

' You test your friends ! ' she cried, her cheek flaming 
again at the provocative change of voice. 'What 
possible right have you to that remark?' 

'I know you, and I know the causes you want to 
serve. You can't serve them where you are. Nursing 
is not for you ; you are wanted among your own class 
among your equals among the people who are 
changing and shaping England. It is absurd. You 
are masquerading.' 

She gave him a little sarcastic nod. 

'Thank you. I am doing a little honest work for the 
first time in my life.' 

He laughed. It was impossible to tell whether he 
was serious or posing. 

'You are just what you were in one respect 
I 160 ] 


terribly in the right! Be a little humble to-night for 
a change. Come, condescend to the classes ! Do you 
see Mr. Lane calling us?' 

And, in fact, Mr. Lane, with his arm in the air, was 
eagerly beckoning to them from the distance. 

'Do you know Lady Selina Farrell?' he asked her, 
as they walked quickly back to the dispersing crowd. 

'No; who is she?' 

Wharton laughed. 

'Providence should contrive to let Lady Selina 
overhear that question once a week in your tone ! 
Well, she is a personage Lord Alresford's daughter 
- unmarried, rich, has a salon, or thinks she has - 
manipulates a great many people's fortunes and lives, 
or thinks she does, which, after all, is what matters 
to Lady Selina. She wants to know you, badly. Do 
you think you can be kind to her? There she is you 
will let me introduce you? She dines with us.' 

In another moment Marcella had been introduced 
to a tall, fair lady in a very fashionable black-and- 
pink bonnet, who held out a gracious hand. 

'I have heard so much of you!' said Lady Selina, 
as they walked along the passage to the dining-room 
together. ' It must be so wonderful, your nursing ! ' 

Marcella laughed rather restively. 

'No, I don't think it is,' she said /there are so many 
of us/ 

'Oh, but the things you do Mr. Wharton told 
me so interesting ! ' 

Marcella said nothing, and as to her looks the pass- 
age was dark. Lady Selina thought her a very hand- 
some but very gauche young woman. Still, gauche or 


no, she had thrown over Aldous Raeburn and thirty 
thousand a year ; an act which, as Lady Selina ad- 
mitted, put you out of the common run. 

'Do you know most of the people dining?' she in- 
quired in her blandest voice. 'But no doubt you do. 
You are a great friend of Mr. Wharton's, I think?' 

'He stayed at our house last year,' said Marcella, 
abruptly. 'No, I don't know anybody/ 

'Then shall I tell you? It makes it more interesting, 
does n't it? It ought to be a pleasant little party.' 

And the great lady lightly ran over the names. It 
seemed to Marcella that most of them were very 
'smart' or very important. Some of the smart names 
were vaguely known to her from Miss Raeburn 's talk 
of last year ; and, besides, there were a couple of Tory 
Cabinet Ministers and two or three prominent Mem- 
bers. It was all rather surprising. 

At dinner she found herself between one of the 
Cabinet Ministers and the young and good-looking 
private secretary of the other. Both men were agree- 
able, and very willing, besides, to take trouble with 
this unknown beauty. The Minister, who knew the 
Raeburns very well, was discussing with himself all 
the time whether this was indeed the Miss Boyce of 
that story. His suspicion and curiosity were at any 
rate sufficiently strong to make him give himself 
much pains to draw her out. 

Her own conversation, however, was much dis- 
tracted by the attention she could not help giving 
to her host and his surroundings. Wharton had Lady 
Selina on his right, and the young and distinguished 
wife of Marcella's Minister on his left. At the other 


end of the table sat Mrs. Lane, doing her duty spas- 
modically to Lord Alresford, who still, in a blind old 
age, gave himself all the airs of the current statesman 
and possible Premier. But the talk, on the whole, was 
general a gay and careless give-and-take of par- 
liamentary, social, and racing gossip, the ball flying 
from one accustomed hand to another. 

And Marcella could not get over the astonishment 
of Wharton's part in it. She shut her eyes some- 
times for an instant and tried to see him as her girl's 
fancy had seen him at Mellor the solitary, eccentric 
figure pursued by the hatreds of a renounced Pa- 
tricianate bringing the enmity of his own order as 
a pledge and offering to the Plebs he asked to lead. 
Where even was the speaker of an hour ago? Chat 
of Ascot and of Newmarket; discussion with Lady 
Selina or with his left-hand neighbour of country- 
house 'sets/ with a patter of names which sounded 
in her scornful ear like a paragraph from the World; 
above all, a general air of easy comradeship, which 
no one at this table, at any rate, seemed inclined to 
dispute, with every exclusiveness and every amuse- 
ment of the 'idle rich/ whereof in the popular idea 
- he was held to be one of the very particular foes ! 

No doubt, as the dinner moved on, this first im- 
pression changed somewhat. She began to distinguish 
notes that had at first been lost upon her. She caught 
the mocking, ambiguous tone under which she herself 
had so often fumed; she watched the occasional re- 
coil of the women about him, as though they had been 
playing with some soft-pawed animal, and had been 
suddenly startled by the gleam of its claws. These 
[ 163 ] 


things puzzled, partly propitiated her. But on the 
whole she was restless and hostile. How was it possible 
from such personal temporising such a frittering 
of the forces and sympathies to win the single- 
mindedness and the power without which no great 
career is built? She wanted to talk with him re- 
proach him ! 

'Well I must go worse luck/ said Wharton at 
last, laying down his napkin and rising. 'Lane, will 
you take" charge? I will join you outside later/ 

' If he ever finds us ! ' said her neighbour to Marcella. 
'I never saw the place so crowded. It is odd how 
people enjoy these scrambling meals in these very 
ugly rooms/ 

Marcella, smiling, looked down with him over the 
bare coffee-tavern place, in which their party oc- 
cupied a sort of high table across the end, while two 
other small gatherings were accommodated in the 
space below. 

' Are there any other rooms than this ? ' she asked idly. 

'One more/ said a young man across the table, 
who had been introduced to her in the dusk outside, 
and had not yet succeeded in getting her to look at him, 
as he desired. 'But there is another big party there 
to-night Raeburn you know/ he went on in- 
nocently, addressing the Minister; 'he has got the 
Winterbournes and the Macdonalds quite a gather- 
ing rather an unusual thing for him/ 

The Minister glanced quickly at his companion. 
But she had turned to answer a question from Lady 
Selina, and thenceforward, till the party rose, she gave 
him little opportunity of observing her. 
[ 164 ] 


As the outward-moving stream of guests was once 
more in the corridor leading to the Terrace, Marcella 
hurriedly made her way to Mrs. Lane. 

'I think/ she said 'I am afraid we ought to 
be going my friend and I. Perhaps Mr. Lane - 
perhaps he would just show us the way out; we can 
easily find a cab/ 

There was an imploring, urgent look in her face 
which struck Mrs. Lane. But Mr. Lane's loud friendly 
voice broke in from behind. 

'My dear Miss Boyce! we can't possibly allow 
it no ! no just half an hour while they bring 
us our coffee to do your homage, you know, to 
the Terrace and the river and the moon ! And 
then if you don't want to go back to the House 
for the division, we will see you safely into your cab. 
Look at the moon ! and the tide' - - they had come 
to the wide door opening on the Terrace 'aren't 
they doing their very best for you?' 

Marcella looked behind her in despair. Where 
was Edith? Far in the rear! and fully occupied 
apparently with two or three pleasant companions. 
She could not help herself. She was carried on, with 
Mr. Lane chatting beside her though the sight of 
the shining Terrace, with its moonlit crowd of figures, 
breathed into her a terror and pain she could hardly 

'Come and look at the water,' she said to Mr. Lane; 
'I would rather not walk up and down if you don't 

He thought she was tired, and politely led her 
through the sitting or promenading groups till once 


more she was leaning over the parapet, now trying 
to talk, now to absorb herself in the magic of bridge, 
river, and sky, but in reality listening all the time with 
a shrinking heart for the voices and the footfalls that 
she dreaded. Lady Winterbourne, above all! How 
unlucky ! It was only that morning that she had re- 
ceived a forwarded letter from that old friend, asking 
urgently for news and her address. 

'Well, how did you like the speech to-night the 
speech?' said Mr. Lane, a genial Gladstonian Member, 
more heavily weighted with estates than with ideas. 
' It was splendid, was n't it? in the way of speaking. 
Speeches like that are a safety-valve that's my 
view of it. Have 'em out all these ideas get 'em 
discussed!' --with a good-humoured shake of the 
head for emphasis. ' Does nobody any harm and may 
do good. I can tell you, Miss Boyce, the House of 
Commons is a capital place for taming these clever 
young men ! you must give them their head and 
they make excellent fellows after a bit. Why - 
who's this? My dear Lady Winterbourne ! this is 
a sight for sair een!' 

And the portly Member with great effusion grasped 
the hand of a stately lady in black, whose abundant 
white hair caught the moonlight. 

'Marcella!' cried a woman's voice. 

Yes there he was ! close behind Lady Winter- 
bourne. In the soft darkness he and his party had run 
upon the two persons talking over the wall without 
an idea a suspicion. 

She hurriedly withdrew herself from Lady Winter- 
bourne, hesitated a second, then held out her hand 
[ 166 ] 


to him. The light was behind him. She could not see 
his face in the darkness; but she was suddenly and 
strangely conscious of the whole scene of the great 
dark building with its lines of fairy-lit, Gothic win- 
dows the blue gulf of the river crossed by lines of 
wavering light the swift passage of a steamer with 
its illuminated saloon and crowded deck of the 
wonderful mixture of moonlight and sunset in the air 
and sky of this dark figure in front of her. 

Their hands touched. Was there a murmured word 
from him? She did not know; she was too agitated, 
too unhappy to hear it if there was. She threw her- 
self upon Lady Winterbourne, in whom she divined at 
once a tremor almost equal to her own. 

' Oh ! do come with me come away ! I want to 
talk to you ! ' she said incoherently under her breath, 
drawing Lady Winterbourne with a strong hand. 

Lady Winterbourne yielded, bewildered, and they 
moved along the Terrace. 

'Oh, rny dear, my dear!' cried the elder lady - 
'to think of finding you here! How astonishing - 
how how dreadful ! No ! I don't mean that. Of 
course you and he must meet but it was only 
yesterday he told me he had never seen you again 
since and it gave me a turn. I was very foolish 
just now. There now stay here a moment and 
tell me about yourself/ 

And again they paused by the river, the girl glanc- 
ing nervously behind her as though she were in a 
company of ghosts. Lady Winterbourne recovered 
herself, and Marcella, looking at her, saw the old 
tragic severity of feature and mien blurred with the 
[ 167 ] 


same softness, the same delicate tremor. Marcella 
clung to her with almost a daughter's feeling. She 
took up the white wrinkled hand as it lay on the 
parapet, and kissed it in the dark so that no one saw. 

'I am glad to see you again/ she said, passionately, 
' so glad!' 

Lady Winterbourne was surprised and moved. 

'But you have never written all these months, you 
unkind child ! And I have heard so little of you - 
your mother never seemed to know. When will you 
come and see me or shall I come to you? I can't 
stay now, for we were just going; my daughter, 
Ermyntrude Welwyn, has to take some one to a 
ball. How strange' --she broke off 'how very 
strange that you and he should have met to-night! 
He goes off to Italy to-morrow, you know, with Lord 

'Yes, I had heard/ said Marcella, more steadily. 
'Will you come to tea with me next week? Oh, I 
will write. And we must go too where can my 
friend be?' 

She looked round in dismay, and up and down the 
Terrace for Edith. 

'I will take you back to the Lanes, anyway/ said 
Lady Winterbourne; 'or shall we look after you?' 

'No! no! Take me back to the Lanes/ 

'Mamma, are you coming?' said a voice like a 
softened version of Lady Winterbourne 's. 

Then something small and thin ran forward, and 
a girl's voice said piteously : 

'Dear Lady Winterbourne, my frock and my hair 
take so long to do! I shall be cross with my maid, 
[ 168 ] 


and look like a fiend. Ermyntrude will be sorry she 
ever knew me. Do come!' 

'Don't cry, Betty. I certainly shan't take you if 
you do!' said Lady Ermyntrude, laughing. 'Mamma, 
is this Miss Boyce your Miss Boyce?' 

She and Marcella shook hands, and they talked a 
little, Lady Ermyntrude under cover of the darkness 
looking hard and curiously at the tall stranger whom, 
as it happened, she had never seen before. Marcella 
had little notion of what she was saying. She was 
far more conscious of the girlish form hanging on 
Lady Winterbourne's arm than she was of her own 
words, of 'Betty's' beautiful soft eyes also shyly 
and gravely fixed upon herself under that mar- 
vellous cloud of fair hair; the long, pointed chin; the 
whimsical little face. 

'Well, none of you are any good!' said Betty at 
last, in a tragic voice. 'I shall have to walk home 
my own poor little self, and "ask a p'leeceman." 
Mr. Raeburn!' 

He disengaged himself from a group behind and 
came with no alacrity. Betty ran up to him. 

'Mr. Raeburn! Ermyntrude and Lady Winter- 
bourne are going to sleep here, if you don't mind 
making arrangements. But / want a hansom.' 

At that very moment Marcella caught sight of 
Edith strolling along towards her with a couple of 
Members, and chatting as though the world had never 
rolled more evenly. 

' Oh ! there she is there is my friend ! ' cried Mar- 
cella to Lady Winterbourne. 'Good-night good- 

[ 169 ] 


She was hurrying off when she saw Aldous Raeburn 
was standing alone a moment. The exasperated Betty 
had made a dart from his side to 'collect' another 
straying member of the party. 

An impulse she could not master scattered her 
wretched discomfort even her chafing sense of 
being the observed of many eyes. She walked up to 

'Will you tell me about Lord Maxwell?' she said, in 
a tremulous hurry. ' I am so sorry he is ill I had n't 
heard I ' 

She dared not look up. Was that his voice an- 

'Thank you. We have been very anxious about 
him; but the doctors to-day give a rather better re- 
port. We take him abroad to-morrow.' 

'Marcella! at last!' cried Edith Craven, catching 

hold of her friend; 'you lost me? Oh, nonsense; it 

was all the other way. But look, there is Mr. Wharton 

coming out. I must go come and say good-night 

everybody is departing.' 

Aldous Raeburn lifted his hat. Marcella felt a sud- 
den rush of humiliation pain sore resentment. 
That cold, strange tone those unwilling words !- 
She had gone up to him as undisciplined in her 
repentance as she had been in aggression full of 
a passionate yearning to make friends somehow to 
convey to him that she "was sorry," in the old child's 
phrase which her self-willed childhood had used so 
little. There could be no misunderstanding possible! 
He of all men knew best how irrevocable it all was. 
But why, when life has brought reflexion, and you 
[ 170 ] 


realise at last that you have vitally hurt, perhaps 
maimed, another human being, should it not be pos- 
sible to fling conventions aside, and go to that human 
being with the frank confession which by all the pro- 
mises of ethics and religion ought to bring peace - 
peace and a soothed conscience? 

But he had been repulsed put aside, so she took 
it and by one of the kindest and most generous of 
men ! She moved along the Terrace in a maze, seeing 
nothing, biting her lip to keep back the angry tears. 
All that obscure need, that new stirring of moral life 
within her which had found issue in this little futile 
advance towards a man who had once loved her and 
could now, it seemed, only despise and dislike her 
- was beating and swelling stormlike within her. She 
had taken being loved so easily, so much as a matter of 
course ! How was it that it hurt her now so much to 
have lost love, and power, and consideration? She 
had never felt any passion for Aldous Raeburn had 
taken him lightly and shaken him off with a mini- 
mum of remorse. Yet to-night a few cold words from 
him the proud manner of a moment had in- 
flicted a smart upon her she could hardly bear. They 
had made her feel herself so alone, unhappy, uncared for ! 
But, on the contrary, she must be happy ! must 
be loved ! To this, and this only, had she been brought 
by the hard experience of this strenuous year. 

'Oh, Mrs. Lane, be an angel!' exclaimed Wharton's 
voice. 'Just one turn five minutes! The division 
will be called directly, and then we will all thank our 
stars and go to bed ! ' 


In another instant he was at Marcella 's side, bare- 
headed, radiant, reckless even, as he was wont to be 
in moments of excitement. He had seen her speak 
to Raeburn as he came out on the Terrace, but his 
mind was too full for any perception of other people's 
situations even hers. He was absorbed with him- 
self, and with her, as she fitted his present need. The 
smile of satisfied vanity, of stimulated ambition, was 
on his lips; and his good -humour inclined him more 
than ever to Marcella, and the pleasure of a woman's 
company. He passed with ease from triumph to hom- 
age; his talk, now audacious, now confiding, offered 
her a deference, a flattery, to which, as he was fully 
conscious, the events of the evening had lent a new 

She, too, in his eyes, had triumphed had made 
her mark. His ears were full of the comments made 
upon her to-night by the little world on the Terrace. 
If it were not for money hateful money ! what 
more brilliant wife could be desired for any rising 

So the five minutes lengthened into ten, and by the 
time the division was called, and Wharton hurried 
off, Marcella, soothed, taken out of herself, rescued 
from the emptiness and forlornness of a tragic mo- 
ment, had given him more conscious cause than she 
had ever given him yet to think her kind and fair. 


MY dear Ned, do be reasonable! Your sister is in 
despair, and so am I. Why do you torment us by 
staying on here in the heat, and taking all these en- 
gagements, which you know you are no more fit for 

'A sick grasshopper/ laughed Hallin. 'Healthy 
wretch ! Did heaven give you that sun-burn only that 
you might come home from Italy and twit us weak- 
lings? Do you think I want to look as rombustious 
as you? "Nothing too much," my good friend !' 

Aldous looked down upon the speaker with an 
anxiety quite untouched by Hallin's 'chaff/ 

'Miss Hallin tells me/ he persisted, 'that you are 
wearing yourself out with this lecturing campaign, 
that you don't sleep, and that she is more unhappy 
about you than she has been for months. Why not 
give it up now, rest, and begin again in the winter?' 

Hallin smiled a little as he sat with the tips of his 
fingers lightly joined in front of him. 

'I doubt whether I shall live through the winter/ 
he said, quietly. 

Raeburn started. Hallin in general spoke of his 
health, when he allowed it to be mentioned at all, 
in the most cheerful terms. 

'Why you should behave as though you wished to 
make such a prophecy true I can't conceive!' he said 
in impatient pain. 

[ 173 ] 


Hallin offered no immediate answer, and Raeburn, 
who was standing in front of him, leaning against the 
wood-work of the open window, looked unhappily at 
the face and form of his friend. In youth that face 
had possessed a Greek serenity and blitheness, depend- 
ent perhaps on its clear, aquiline feature, the steady, 
transparent eyes ccdi lucida templa the fresh 
fairness of the complexion, and the boyish brow under 
its arch of pale brown hair. And to stronger men 
there had always been something peculiarly winning 
in the fragile grace of figure and movements, sug- 
gesting, as they did, sad and perpetual compromise 
between the spirit's eagerness and the body's weak- 

'Don't make yourself unhappy, my dear boy,' said 
Hallin, at last, putting up a thin hand and touching 
his friend ' I shall give up soon. Moreover, it will 
give me up. Workmen want to do something else 
with their evenings in July than spend them in listen- 
ing to stuffy lectures. I shall go to the Lakes. But 
there are a few engagements still ahead, and I con- 
fess I am more restless than I used to be. The night 
cometh when no man can work.' 

They fell into a certain amount of discursive talk 

- of the political situation, working-class opinion, and 

the rest. Raeburn had been alive now for some time 

to a curious change of balance in his friend's mind. 

Hallin's buoyant youth had concerned itself almost 

entirely with positive crusades and enthusiasms. Of 

late he seemed rather to have passed into a period 

of negations, of strong opposition to certain current 

isms and faiths; and the happy boyish tone of earlier 

[ 174 ] 


years had become the 'stormy note of men contention- 
tost/ which belongs, indeed, as truly to such a char- 
acter as the joy of young ideals. 

He had always been to some extent divided from 
Raeburn and others of his early friends by his pas- 
sionate democracy his belief in, and trust of, the 
multitude. For Hallin, the divine originating life was 
realised and manifested through the common human- 
ity and its struggle, as a whole; for Raeburn, only 
in the best of it, morally or intellectually; the rest 
remaining an inscrutable problem, which did not, 
indeed, prevent faith, but hung upon it like a dead 
weight. Such divisions, however, are among the com- 
mon divisions of thinking men, and had never inter- 
fered with the friendship of these two in the least. 

But the developing alienation between Hallin and 
hundreds of his working-men friends was of an infin- 
itely keener and sorer kind. Since he had begun his 
lecturing and propagandist life, Socialist ideas of all 
kinds had made great way in England. And, on the 
whole, as the prevailing type of them grew stronger, 
Hallin 's sympathy with them had grown weaker and 
weaker. Property to him meant 'self-realisation'; 
and the abuse of property was no more just ground 
for a crusade which logically aimed at doing away 
with it than the abuse of other human powers or 
instincts would make it reasonable to try and do away 
with say love, or religion. To give property, and 
therewith the fuller human opportunity, to those that 
have none, was the inmost desire of his life. And 
not merely common property though like all true 
soldiers of the human cause he believed that common 
[ 175 ] 


property will be in the future enormously extended 
- but in the first place, and above all, to distribute 
the discipline and the trust of personal and private 
possession among an infinitely greater number of hands 
than possess them already. And that not for wealth's 
sake though a more equal distribution of property, 
and therewith of capacity, must inevitably tend to 
wealth but for the soul's sake, and for the sake 
of that continuous appropriation by the race of its 
moral and spiritual heritage. 

How is it to be done? Hallin, like many others, 
would have answered ' For England mainly by 
a fresh distribution of the land.' Not, of course, by 
violence which only means the worst form of waste 
known to history but by the continuous pressure 
of an emancipating legislation, relieving land from 
shackles long since struck off other kinds of property 
-by the assertion, within a certain limited range, 
of communal initiative and control and above all 
by the continuous private effort in all sorts of ways and 
spheres of ' men of good will.' For all sweeping uniform 
schemes he had the natural contempt of the student 
or the moralist. To imagine that by nationalising 
sixty annual millions of rent, for instance, you could 
make England a city of God, was not only a vain 
dream, but a belittling of England's history and Eng- 
land's task. A nation is not saved so cheaply ! and 
to see those energies turned to land nationalisation 
or the scheming of a Collectivist millennium, which 
might have gone to the housing, educating, and re- 
fining of English men, women, and children of to-day, 
to moralising the employer's view of his profit, and 
[ 176 ] 


the landlord's conception of his estate filled him 
with a growing despair. 

The relation of such a habit of life and mind to 
the Collectivist and Socialist ideas now coming to the 
front in England, as in every other European country, 
is obvious enough. To Hallin the social life, the com- 
munity, was everything yet to be a 'Socialist' 
seemed to him more and more to be a traitor! He 
would have built his State on the purified will of the 
individual man, and could conceive no other founda- 
tion for a State worth having. But for purification 
there must be effort, and for effort there must be 
freedom. Socialism, as he read it, despised and de- 
cried freedom, and placed the good of man wholly 
in certain external conditions. It was aiming at a 
state of things under which the joys and pains, the 
teaching and the risks of true possession, were to be 
for ever shut off from the poor human will, which yet, 
according to him, could never do without them, if 
man was to be man. 

So that he saw it all sub specie xternitatis, as a mat- 
ter not of economic theory, but rather of religion. 
Raeburn, as they talked, shrank in dismay from the 
burning intensity of mood underlying his controlled 
speech. He spoke, for instance, of Bennett's conver- 
sion to Harry Wharton's proposed Bill, or of the land 
nationalising scheme he was spending all his slender 
stores of breath and strength in attacking, not with 
anger or contempt, but with a passionate sorrow 
which seemed to Raeburn preposterous! intolerable! 
-to be exhausting in him the very springs and 
sources of a too precarious life. There rose in Aldous 
[ 177 ] 


at last an indignant protest which yet could hardly 
find itself words. What help to have softened the 
edge and fury of religious war, only to discover new 
antagonisms of opinion as capable of devastating 
heart and affections as any homoousion of old? Had 
they not already cost him love? Were they also, in 
another fashion, to cost him his friend? 

'Ah, dear old fellow enough!' said Hallin, at 
last 'take me back to Italy! You have told me so 
little such a niggardly little!' 

'I told you that we went and I came back in a 
water-spout/ said Aldous; 'the first rain in Northern 
Italy for four months worse luck ! " Rain at Reggio, 
rain at Parma. At Lodi rain, Piacenza rain ! " 
that might about stand for my diary, except for one 
radiant day when my aunt, Betty Macdonald, and I 
descended on Milan, and climbed the Duomo.' 

'Did Miss Betty amuse you?' 

Aldous laughed. 

'Well, at least she varied the programme. The 
greater part of our day in Milan Aunt Neta and I 
spent in rushing after her like its tail after a kite. 
First of all, she left us in the Duomo Square, running 
like a deer, and presently, to Aunt Neta's horror, we 
discovered that she was pursuing a young Italian 
officer in a blue cloak. When we came up with the 
pair she was inquiring, in her best Italian, where the 
"Signer" got his cloak, because positively she must 
have one like it, and he, cap in hand, was explaining 
to the Signorina that if she would but follow him 
round the corner to his military tailor's, she could be 


supplied on the spot. So there we all went, Miss Betty 
insisting. You can imagine Aunt Neta. She bought a 
small shipload of stuff and then positively skipped 
for joy in the street outside the amazed officer 
looking on. And as for her career over the roof of the 
Duomo the agitation of it nearly brought my aunt 
to destruction and even I heaved a sigh of relief 
when I got them both down safe/ 

'Is the creature all tricks?' said Hallin, with a 
smile. 'As you talk of her to me I get the notion of a 
little monkey just cut loose from a barrel-organ/ 

'Oh! but the monkey has so much heart/ said 
Aldous, laughing again, as every one was apt to laugh 
who talked about Betty Macdonald, 'and it makes 
friends with every sick and sorry creature it comes 
across, especially with old maids! It amounts to 
genius, Betty's way with old maids. You should see 
her in the middle of them in the hotel salon at night 
-a perfect ring of them and the men outside, 
totally neglected, and out of temper. I have never seen 
Betty yet in a room with somebody she thought ill at 
ease, or put in the shade a governess, or a school- 
girl, or a lumpish boy that she did not devote her- 
self to that somebody. It is a pretty instinct ; I have 
often wondered whether it is nature or art/ 

He fell silent, still smiling. Hallin watched him 
closely. Perhaps the thought which had risen in his 
mind revealed itself by some subtle sign or other to 
Aldous. For suddenly Raeburn's expression changed ; 
the over-strenuous, harassed look, which of late had 
somewhat taken the place of his old philosopher's 
quiet, reappeared. 


'I did not tell you, Hallin/ he began, in a low 
voice, raising his eyes to his friend, 'that I had seen 
her again/ 

Hallin paused a moment. Then he said : 

'No. I knew she went to the House to hear Whar- 
ton's speech, and that she dined there. I supposed 
she might just have come across you but she said 

'Of course, I had no idea/ said Aldous; 'suddenly 
Lady Winterbourne and I came across her on the 
Terrace. Then I saw she was with that man's party. 
She spoke to me afterwards I believe now she 
meant to be kind' --his voice showed the difficulty 
he had in speaking at all 'but I saw him coming up 
to talk to her. I am ashamed to think of my own 
manner, but I could not help myself/ 

His face and eye took, as he spoke, a peculiar vivid- 
ness and glow. Raeburn had not for months men- 
tioned to him the name of Marcella Boyce, but Hallin 
had all along held two faiths about the matter : first, 
that Aldous was still possessed by a passion which 
had become part of his life ; secondly, that the events 
of the preceding year had produced in him an exceed- 
ingly bitter sense of ill-usage, of a type which Hallin 
had not perhaps expected. 

'Did you see anything to make you suppose/ he 
asked, quietly, after a pause, 'that she is going to 
marry him?' 

'No no/ Aldous repeated slowly; 'but she is 
clearly on friendly, perhaps intimate, terms with him. 
And just now, of course, she is more likely to be in- 
fluenced by him than ever. He made a great success 
[ 180 ] 


- of a kind in the House a fortnight ago. People 
seem to think he may come rapidly to the front/ 

'So I understand. I don't believe it. The jealousies 
that divide that group are too unmanageable. If he 
were a Parnell! But he lacks just the qualities that 
matter the reticence, the power of holding himself 
aloof from irrelevant things and interests, the hard 
self -concentration. ' 

Aldous raised his shoulders. 

' I don't imagine there is any lack of that ! But cer- 
tainly he holds himself aloof from nothing and nobody ! 
I hear of him everywhere/ 

'What ! among the smart people?' 

Aldous nodded. 

'A change of policy by all accounts/ said Hallin, 
musing. ' He must do it with intention. He is not the 
man to let himself be be-Capua-ed all at once/ 

'Oh dear, no !' said Aldous, dryly. 'He does it with 
intention. Nobody supposes him to be the mere toady. 
All the same I think he may very well overrate the 
importance of the class he is trying to make use of, 
and its influence. Have you been following the strike 
"leaders" in the Clarion?' 

'No!' cried Hallin, flushing. 'I would not read 
them for the world! I might not be able to go on 
giving to the strike/ 

Aldous fell silent, and Hallin presently saw that his 
mind had harked back to the one subject that really 
held the depths of it. The truest friendship, Hallin 
believed, would be never to speak to him of Marcella 
Boyce never to encourage him to dwell upon her, 
or upon anything connected with her. But his yearn- 
[ 181 ] 


ing, sympathetic instinct would not let him follow 
his own conviction. 

'Miss Boyce, you know, has been here two or three 
times while you have been away/ he said, quickly, as 
he got up to post a letter. 

Aldous hesitated ; then he said 

'Do you gather that her nursing life satisfies 

Hallin made a little face. 

'Since when has she become a person likely to be 
" satisfied " with anything? She devotes to it a splen- 
did and wonderful energy. When she comes here, I 
admire her with all my heart, and pity her so much 
that I could cry over her ! ' 

Aldous started. 

'I don't know what you mean,' he said, as he too 
rose and laid his hand on Hallin 's for a moment. ' But 
don't tell me! It's best for me not to talk of her. If 
she were associated in my mind with any other man 
than Wharton, I think somehow I could throw the 
whole thing off. But this this - ' He broke off ; 
then resumed, while he pretended to look for a parcel 
he had brought with him, by way of covering an agi- 
tation he could not suppress. 'A person you and I 
know said to me the other day, "It may sound un- 
romantic, but I could never think of a woman who 
had thrown me over except with ill-will." The word 
astonished me, but sometimes I understand it. I find 
myself full of anger to the most futile, the most ridic- 
ulous degree ! ' 

He drew himself up nervously, already scorning his 
own absurdity, his own breach of reticence. Hallin 


laid his hands on the taller man's shoulders, and there 
was a short pause. ' 

'Never mind, old fellow/ said Hallin, simply, at 
last, as his hands dropped; 'let's go and do our work. 
What is it you're after? I forget/ 

Aldous found his packet and his hat, explaining 
himself again, meanwhile, in his usual voice. He had 
dropped in on Hallin for a morning visit, meaning to 
spend some hours before the House met in the in- 
vestigation of some small workshops in the neigh- 
bourhood of Drury Lane. The Home Office had been 
called upon for increased inspection and regulation; 
there had been a great conflict of evidence, and Al- 
dous had finally resolved in his student's way to see 
for himself the state of things in two or three selected 

It was a matter on which Hallin was also well- 
informed, and felt strongly. They stayed talking 
about it a few minutes, Hallin eagerly directing 
Raeburn's attention to the two or three points 
where he thought the Government could really do 

Then Raeburn turned to go. 

'I shall come and drag you out to-morrow after- 
noon,' he said, as he opened the door. 

'You need n't/ said Hallin, with a smile; 'in fact, 
don't; I shall have my jaunt/ 

Whereby Aldous understood that he would be en- 
gaged in his common Saturday practice of taking out 
a batch of elder boys or girls from one or other of the 
schools of which he was manager, for a walk or to see 
some sight. 

[ 183 ] 


'If it's your boys/ he said, protesting, 'you're not 
fit for it. Hand them over to me/ 

'Nothing of the sort,' said Hallin, gaily, and turned 
him out of the room. 

Raeburn found the walk from Hallin 's Bloomsbury 
quarters to Drury Lane hot and airless. The planes 
were already drooping and yellowing in the squares, 
the streets were at their closest and dirtiest, and the 
traffic of Holborn and its approaches had never seemed 
to him more bewildering in its roar and volume. July 
was in, and all freshness had already disappeared from 
the too short London summer. 

For Raeburn on this particular afternoon there was 
a curious forlornness in the dry and tainted air. His 
slack mood found no bracing in the sun or the breeze. 
Everything was or seemed distasteful to a mind out 
of tune whether this work he was upon, which 
only yesterday had interested him considerably, or 
his parliamentary occupations, or some tiresome 
estate business which would have to be looked into 
when he got home. He was oppressed, too, by the 
last news of his grandfather. The certainty that 
this dear and honoured life, with which his own had 
been so closely intertwined since his boyhood, 
was drawing to its close weighed upon him now 
heavily and constantly. The loss itself would take 
from him an object on which affection checked 
and thwarted elsewhere was still free to spend 
itself in ways peculiarly noble and tender ; and as for 
those other changes to which the first great change 
must lead his transference to the Upper House, and 
[ 184 ] 


the extension for himself of all the ceremonial side of 
life he looked forward to them with an intense 
and resentful repugnance, as to aggravations, per- 
versely thrust on him from without, of a great and 
necessary grief. Few men believed less happily in 
democracy than Aldous Raeburn; on the other hand, 
few men felt a more steady distaste for certain kinds 
of inequality. 

He was to meet a young inspector at the corner of 
Little Queen Street, and they were to visit together 
a series of small brush-drawing and box-making 
workshops in the Drury Lane district, to which the 
attention of the Department had lately been specially 
drawn. Aldous had no sooner crossed Holborn than 
he saw his man waiting for him, a tall strip of a fellow, 
with a dark bearded face, and a manner which shyness 
had made a trifle morose. Aldous, however, knew 
him to be not only a capital worker, but a man of 
parts, and had got much information and some ideas 
out of him already. Mr. Peabody gave the under- 
secretary a slight preoccupied smile in return for his 
friendly greeting, and the two walked on together 

The inspector announced that he proposed to take 
his companion first of all to a street behind Drury 
Lane, of which many of the houses were already 
marked for demolition a 'black street/ bearing 
a peculiarly vile reputation in the neighbourhood. 
It contained on the whole the worst of the small 
workshops which he desired to bring to Raeburn's 
notice, besides a variety of other horrors, social and 

[ 185 ] 


After ten minutes' walking they turned into the 
street. With its condemned houses, many of them 
shored up and windowless, its narrow roadway strewn 
with costers' refuse it was largely inhabited by 
costers frequenting Covent Garden Market its 
filthy gutters and broken pavements, it touched, 
indeed, a depth of sinister squalor beyond most of 
its fellows. The air was heavy with odours which, 
in this July heat, seemed to bear with them the in- 
most essences of things sickening and decaying; and 
the children, squatting or playing amid the garbage 
of the street, were further than most of their kind from 
any tolerable human type. 

A policeman was stationed near the entrance of the 
street. After they had passed him, Mr. Peabody ran 
back and said a word in his ear. 

'I gave him your name/ he said, briefly, in answer 
to Raeburn's interrogative look, when he returned, 
'and told him what we were after. The street is not 
quite as bad as it was; and there are little oases of 
respectability in it you would never expect. But 
there is plenty of the worst thieving and brutality 
left in it still. Of course, now you see it at its dull 
moment. To-night the place will swarm with barrows 
and stalls, all the people will be in the street, and after 
dark it will be as near pandemonium as may be. I 
happen to know the School Board Visitor of these 
parts; and a City Missionary, too, who is afraid of 

And standing still a moment, pointing imperceptibly 
to right and left, he began in his shy, monotonous 
voice to run through the inhabitants of some of the 
[ 186 ] 


houses and a few typical histories. This group was 
mainly peopled by women of the very lowest class 
and their 'bullies' --that is to say, the men who 
aided them in plundering, sometimes in murdering, 
the stranger who fell into their claws ; in that house a 
woman had been slowly done to death by her husband 
and his brutal brothers under every circumstance of 
tragic horror; in the next a case of flagrant and re- 
volting cruelty to a pair of infant children had just 
been brought to light. In addition to its vice and its 
thievery, the wretched place was, of course, steeped 
in drink. There were gin-palaces at all the corners; 
the women drank, in proportion to their resources, 
as badly as the men, and the children were fed with 
the stuff in infancy, and began for themselves as 
early as they could beg or steal a copper of their own. 

When the dismal catalogue was done, they moved 
on towards the further end of the street, and a house 
on the right-hand side. Behind the veil of his official 
manner Aldous's shrinking sense took all it saw and 
heard as fresh food for a darkness and despondency 
of soul already great enough. But his companion - 
a young enthusiast, secretly very critical of 'big- wigs' 
-was conscious only of the trained man of affairs, 
courteous, methodical, and well-informed, putting a 
series of preliminary questions with unusual point 
and rapidity. 

Suddenly, under the influence of a common im- 
pression, both men stood still and looked about 
them. There was a stir in the street. Windows had 
been thrown open, and scores of heads were looking 
out. People emerged from all quarters, seemed to 
[ 187 ] 


spring from the ground or drop from the skies, and in 
a few seconds, as it were, the street, so dead-alive 
before, was full of a running and shouting crowd. 

'It's a fight!' said Peabody, as the crowd came up 
with them. ' Listen ! ' 

Shrieks of the most ghastly and piercing note, 
rang through the air. The men and women who 
rushed past the two strangers hustling them, yet 
too excited to notice them were all making for a 
house some ten or twelve yards in front of them, to 
their left. Aldous had turned white. 

' It is a woman ! ' he said, after an instant's listening, 
'and it sounds like murder. You go back for that 

And without another word he threw himself on 
the crowd, forcing his way through it by the help of 
arms and shoulders which, in years gone by, had done 
good service for the Trinity Eight. Drink-sodden men 
and screaming women gave way before him. He 
found himself at the door of the house, hammering 
upon it with two or three other men who were there 
before him. The noise from within was appalling - 
cries, groans, uproar all the sounds of a deadly 
struggle proceeding apparently on the second floor of 
the house. Then came a heavy fall then the sound 
of a voice, different in quality and accent from any 
that had gone before, crying piteously and as though 
in exhaustion ' Help ! ' 

Almost at the same moment the door which Aldous 

and his companions were trying to force was burst 

open from within, and three men seemed to be shot 

out from the dark passage inside two wrestling 

[ 188 ] 


with the third, a wild beast in human shape, mad- 
dened apparently with drink, and splashed with 

'Ee's done for her!' shouted one of the captors; 
'an for the Sister too!' 

'The Sister!' shrieked a woman behind Aldous- 
'it's the nuss he means! I sor her go in when I wor 
at my window half an hour ago. Oh ! yer blackguard, 
you!' and she would have fallen upon the wretch, 
in a frenzy, had not the bystanders caught hold of 

'Stand back!' cried a policeman. Three of them 
had come up at Peabody's call. The man was in- 
stantly secured, and the crowd pushed back. 

Aldous was already upstairs. 

'Which room?' he asked of a group of women cry- 
ing and cowering on the first landing for all sounds 
from above had ceased. 

'Third floor front,' cried one of them. 'We all of 
us begged and implored of that young person, sir, not 
to go a-near him! Did n't we, Betsy? did n't we, 

Aldous ran up. 

On the third floor, the door of the front room was 
open. A woman lay on the ground, apparently beaten 
to death. 

By her side, torn, dishevelled, and gasping, knelt 
Marcella Boyce. Two or three other women were 
standing by in helpless terror and curiosity. Marcella 
was bending over the bleeding victim before her. 
Her own left arm hung as though disabled by her 
side; but with the right hand she was doing her best 
[ 189 ] 


to stanch some of the bleeding from the head. Her 
bag stood open beside her, and one of the chattering 
women was handing her what she asked for. The 
sight stamped itself in lines of horror on Raeburn's 

In such an exaltation of nerve she could be surprised 
at nothing. When she saw Raeburn enter the room, 
she did not even start. 

'I think/ she said, as he stooped down to her 
speaking with pauses, as though to get her breath - 
'he has killed her. But there is a chance. Are 
the police there and a stretcher?' 

Two constables entered as she spoke, and the first 
of them instantly sent his companion back for a 
stretcher. Then, noticing Marcella's nursing-dress and 
cloak, he came up to her respectfully. 

'Did you see it, Miss?' 

'I I tried to separate them/ she replied, still 
speaking with the same difficulty, while she silently 
motioned to Aldous, who was on the other side of the 
unconscious and apparently dying woman, to help her 
with the bandage she was applying. 'But he was 
such a great powerful brute/ 

Aldous, hating the clumsiness of his man's fingers, 
knelt down and tried to help her. Her trembling 
hand touched, mingled with his. 

'I was downstairs/ she went on, while the constable 
took out his note-book, 'attending a child that's 
ill when I heard the screams. They were on the 
landing ; he had turned her out of the room then 
rushed after her I think to throw her down- 
stairs I stopped that. Then he took up something 
[ 190 ] 


-oh! there it is!' She shuddered, pointing to a 
broken piece of a chair which lay on the floor. ' He 
was quite mad with drink I could n't do much/ 

Her voice slipped into a weak, piteous note. 

'Is n't your arm hurt?' said Aldous, pointing to it. 

'It's not broken it's wrenched; I can't use it. 
There that's all we can do till she gets to 

Then she stood up, pale and staggering, and asked 
the policeman if he could put on a bandage. The 
man had got his ambulance certificate, and was proud 
to say that he could. She took a roll out of her bag, 
and quietly pointed to her arm. He did his best, not 
without skill, and the deep line of pain furrowing the 
centre of the brow relaxed a little. Then she sank 
down on the floor again beside her patient, gazing at 
the woman's marred face indescribably patient in 
its deep unconsciousness at the gnarled and blood- 
stained hands, with their wedding-ring; at the thin 
locks of torn grey hair with tears that ran un- 
heeded down her cheeks, in a passion of anguished 
pity, which touched a chord of memory in Raeburn's 
mind. He had seen her look so once before beside 
Minta Kurd, on the day of Kurd's capture. 

At the same moment he saw that they were alone. 
The policeman had cleared the room, and was spend- 
ing the few minutes that must elapse before his com- 
panion returned with the stretcher in taking the names 
and evidence of some of the inmates of the house, on 
the stairs outside. 

'You can't do anything more,' said Aldous, gently, 
bending over her. 'Won't you let me take you home? 


- you want it sorely. The police are trained to these 
things, and I have a friend here who will help. 
They will remove her with every care he will see 
to it.' 

Then for the first time her absorption gave way. 
She remembered who he was where they were 
how they had last met. And with the remembrance 
came an extraordinary leap of joy, flashing through 
pain and faintness. She had the childish feeling that 
he could not look unkindly at her any more after 
this! When at the White House she had got herself 
into disgrace, and could not bring her pride to 
ask pardon, she would silently set up a headache or 
a cut finger that she might be pitied, and so, perforce, 
forgiven. The same tacit thought was in her mind 
now. No ! after this he must be friends with her. 

'I will just help to get her downstairs/ she said, 
but with a quivering, appealing accent and so they 
fell silent. 

Aldous looked round the room at the miserable 
filthy garret with its begrimed and peeling wall-paper, 
its two or three broken chairs, its heap of rags across 
two boxes that served for a bed, its empty gin-bottles 
here and there all the familiar, one might almost 
say conventionalised, signs of human ruin and damna- 
tion then at this breathing death between himself 
and her. Perhaps his strongest feeling was one of 
fierce and natural protest against circumstance - 
against her mother ! against a reckless philanthropy 
that could thus throw the finest and fragilest things of 
a poorly-furnished world into such a hopeless struggle 
with devildom. 

[ 192 ] 


'I have been here several times before/ she said, 
presently, in a faint voice, 'and there has never been 
any trouble. By day the street is not much worse 
than others though, of course, it has a bad name. 
There is a little boy on the next floor very ill with 
typhoid. Many of the women in the house are very 
good to him and his mother. This poor thing used 
to come in and out when I was nursing him Oh, 
I wish I wish they would come ! ' she broke off in 
impatience, looking at the deathly form 'every 
moment is of importance ! ' 

As Aldous went to the door to see if the stretcher 
was in sight, it opened, and the police came in. Mar- 
cella, herself helpless, directed the lifting of the blood- 
stained head ; the police obeyed her with care and skill. 
Then Raeburn assisted in the carrying downstairs, and 
presently the police with their burden, and accom- 
panied apparently by the whole street, were on their 
way to the nearest hospital. 

Then Aldous, to his despair and wrath, saw that 
an inspector of police, who had just come up, was 
talking to Marcella, no doubt instructing her as to 
how and where she was to give her evidence. She 
was leaning against the passage-wall, supporting her 
injured arm with her hand, and seemed to him on 
the point of fainting. 

'Get a cab at once, will you?' he said, perempto- 
rily, to Peabody; then going up to the inspector he 
drew him forward. They exchanged a few words, the 
inspector lifted his cap, and Aldous went back to 

'There is a cab here/ he said to her. 'Come, please, 
[ 193 ] 


directly. They will not trouble you any more for the 

He led her out through the still lingering crowd 
and put her into the cab. As they drove along, he 
felt every jolt and roughness of the street as though 
he were himself in anguish. She was some time before 
she recovered the jar of pain caused her by the act 
of getting into the cab. Her breath came fast, and 
he could see that she was trying hard to control her- 
self and not to faint. 

He, too, restrained himself so far as not to talk to 
her. But the exasperation, the revolt within, was in 
truth growing unmanageably. Was this what her new 
career her enthusiasms meant, or might mean! 
Twenty-three ! in the prime of youth, of charm ! 
Horrible, unpardonable waste ! He could not bear it, 
could not submit himself to it. 

Oh! let her marry Wharton, or any one else, so 
long as it were made impossible for her to bruise 
and exhaust her young bloom amid such scenes - 
such gross physical abominations. Amazing ! how 
meanly, passionately timorous the man of Raeburn's 
type can be for the woman! He himself may be 
morally 'ever a fighter/ and feel the glow, the stern 
joy of the fight. But she ! let her leave the human 
brute and his unsavoury struggle alone! It cannot 
be borne it was never meant that she should 
dip her delicate wings, of her own free will at least, 
in such a mire of blood and tears. It was the feeling 
that had possessed him when Mrs. Boyce told him of 
the visit to the prison, the night in the cottage. 

In her whirl of feverish thought, she divined him 
[ 194 ] 


very closely. Presently, as he watched her hating 
the man for driving and the cab for shaking he 
saw her white lips suddenly smile. 

'I know/ she said, rousing herself to look at him; 
'you think nursing is all like that!' 

' I hope not ! ' he said, with effort, trying to smile too. 

'I never saw a fight before/ she said, shutting her 
eyes again. ' Nobody is ever rude to us I often 
pine for experiences ! ' 

How like her old, wild tone ! His rigid look softened 

'Well, you have got one now/ he said, bending 
over to her. 'Does your arm hurt you much?' 

'Yes, but I can bear it. What vexes me is that 
I shall have to give up work for a bit. Mr. Raeburn ! ' 

'Yes/ His heart beat. 

'We may meet often mayn't we? at Lady 
Winterbourne's -- or in the country? Couldn't we 
be friends? You don't know how often - She 
turned away her weary head a moment gathered 
strength to begin again 'how often I have regretted 
last year. I see now that I behaved more un- 
kindly ' her voice was almost a whisper 'than I 
thought then. But it is all done with could n't we 
just be good friends understand each other, perhaps, 
better than we ever did?' 

She kept her eyes closed, shaken with alternate 
shame and daring. 

As for him, he was seized with overpowering dumb- 
ness and chill. What was really in his mind was the 
Terrace was Wharton's advancing figure. But her 
state the moment coerced him. 
[ 195 ] 


'We could not be anything but friends/ he said, 
gently, but with astonishing difficulty ; and then could 
find nothing more to say. She knew his reserve, how- 
ever, and would not this time be repelled. 

She put out her hand. 

'No!' she said, looking at it and withdrawing it 
with a shudder; 'oh no!' 

Then suddenly a passion of tears and trembling 
overcame her. She leant against the side of the cab, 
struggling in vain to regain her self-control, gasping 
incoherent things about the woman she had not been 
able to save. He tried to soothe and calm her, his own 
heart wrung. But she hardly heard him. 

At last they turned into Maine Street, and she saw 
the gateway of Brown's Buildings. 

'Here we are/ she said, faintly, summoning all her 
will; 'do you know you will have to help me across 
that court, and upstairs then I shan't be any more 

So, leaning on Raeburn's arm, Marcella made her 
slow progress across the court of Brown's Buildings 
and through the gaping groups of children. Then at 
the top of her flight of steps she withdrew herself 
from him with a wan smile. 

'Now I am home/ she said. 'Good-bye!' 

Aldous looked round him well at Brown's Buildings 
as he departed. Then he got into a hansom, and drove 
to Lady Winterbourne's house, and implored her to 
fetch and nurse Marcella Boyce, using her best clever- 
ness to hide all motion of his in the matter. 

After which he spent poor Aldous ! one of the 
most restless and miserable nights of his life. 


MARCELLA was sitting in a deep and comfortable 
chair at the open window of Lady Winterbourne 's 
drawing-room. The house in James Street, Buck- 
ingham Gate looked out over the exercising-ground 
of the great barracks in front, and commanded the 
greenery of St. James's Park to the left. The planes 
lining the barrack railings Were poor, wilted things, 
and London was as hot as ever. Still the charm of 
these open spaces of sky and park, after the high walls 
and innumerable windows of Brown's Buildings, was 
very great; Marcella wanted nothing more but to lie 
still, to dally with a book, to dream as she pleased, 
and to be let alone. 

Lady Winterbourne and her married daughter, Lady 
Ermyntrude, were still out, engaged in the innumer- 
able nothings of the fashionable afternoon. Marcella 
had her thoughts to herself. 

But they were not of a kind that any one need 
have wished to share. In the first place, she was tired 
of idleness. In the early days after Lady Winterbourne 
had carried her off, the soft beds and sofas, the trained 
service and delicate food of this small but luxurious 
house had been so pleasant to her that she had scorned 
herself for a greedy Sybaritic temper, delighted by 
any means to escape from plain living. But she had 
been here a fortnight, and was now pining to go back 
to work. Her mood was too restless and transitional 
[ 197 ] 


to leave her long in love with comfort and folded hands. 
She told herself that she had no longer any place 
among the rich and important people of this world ; 
far away beyond these parks and palaces, in the little 
network of dark streets she knew, lay the problems 
and the cares that were really hers, through which 
her heart was somehow wrestling must somehow 
wrestle its passionate way. But her wrenched arm 
was still in a sling, and was, moreover, undergoing 
treatment at the hands of a clever specialist ; and she 
could neither go home, as her mother had wished her 
to do, nor return to her nursing a state of affairs 
which of late had made her a little silent and moody. 

On the whole she found her chief pleasure in the 
two weekly visits she paid to the woman whose life, 
it now appeared, she had saved probably at some 
risk of her own. The poor victim would go scarred 
and maimed through what remained to her of exist- 
ence. But she lived; and as Marcella and Lady 
Winterbourne and Raeburn had abundantly made up 
their minds would be permanently cared for and 
comforted in the future. 

Alas! there were many things that stood between 
Marcella and true rest. She had been woefully dis- 
appointed, nay, wounded, as to the results of that 
tragic half-hour which for the moment had seemed 
to throw a bridge of friendship over those painful, 
estranging memories lying between her and Aldous 
Raeburn. He had called two or three times since she 
had been with Lady Winterbourne; he had done his 
best to make her inevitable appearance as a witness 
in the police-court as easy to her as possible ; the man 
[ 198 ] 


who had stood by her through such a scene could do 
no less, in common politeness and humanity. But 
each time they met his manner had been formal and 
constrained; there had been little conversation; and 
she had been left to the bitterness of feeling that she 
had made a strange if not unseemly advance, of which 
he must think unkindly, since he had let it count 
with him so little. 

Childishly, angrily she wanted him to be friends! 
Why should n't he? He would certainly marry Betty 
Macdonald in time, whatever Mr. Hallin might say. 
Then why not put his pride away and be generous? 
Their future lives must of necessity touch each other, 
for they were bound to the same neighbourhood, the 
same spot of earth. She knew herself to be her father's 
heiress. Mellor must be hers some day; and before 
that day, whenever her father's illness, of which she 
now understood the incurable though probably tedious 
nature, should reach a certain stage, she must go 
home and take up her life there again. Why embitter 
such a situation? make it more difficult for every- 
body concerned? Why not simply bury the past and be- 
gin again? In her restlessness she was inclined to think 
herself much wiser and more magnanimous than he. 

Meanwhile in the Winterbourne household she was 
living among people to whom Aldous Raeburn was 
a dear and familiar companion, who admired him 
with all their hearts, and felt a sympathetic interest 
alike in his private life and his public career. Their 
circle, too, was his circle ; and by means of it she now 
saw Aldous in his relations to his equals and colleagues, 
whether in the Ministry or the House. The result was 
[ 199 1 


a number of new impressions which she half -resented, 
as we may resent the information that some stranger 
will give us upon a subject we imagined ourselves 
better acquainted with than anybody else. The pro- 
mise of Raeburn's political position struck her quick 
mind with a curious surprise. She could not explain 
it as she had so often tacitly explained his place in 
Brookshire by the mere accidents of birth. After 
all, aristocratic as we still are, no party can now 
afford to choose its men by any other criterion than 
personal profitableness. And a man nowadays is in 
the long run personally profitable, far more by what 
he is than by what he has so far at least has 
' progress ' brought us. 

She saw then that this quiet, strong man, with his 
obvious defects of temperament and manner, had al- 
ready gained a remarkable degree of 'consideration/ 
using the word in its French sense, among his political 
contemporaries. He was beginning to be reckoned 
upon as a man of the future by an inner circle of 
persons whose word counted and carried, while yet his 
name was comparatively little known to the public. 
Marcella, indeed, had gathered her impression from 
the most slight and various sources mostly from the 
phrases, the hints, the manner of men already them- 
selves charged with the most difficult and responsible 
work of England. Above all things did she love and 
admire power the power of personal capacity. It 
had been the secret, it was still half the secret, of 
Wharton's influence with her. She saw it here under 
wholly different conditions and accessories. She gave 
it recognition with a kind of unwillingness. All 
[ 200 ] 


the same, Raeburn took a new place in her imagina- 

Then apart from the political world and its judge- 
ments the intimacy between him and the Winter- 
bourne family showed her to him in many new aspects. 
To Lady Winterbourne, his mother's dear and close 
friend, he was almost a son; and nothing could be 
more charming than the affectionate and playful tol- 
erance with which he treated her little oddities and 
weaknesses. And to all her children he was bound by 
the memories and kindnesses of many years. He was 
the godfather of Lady Ermyntrude's child; the hero 
and counsellor of the two sons, who were both in 
Parliament, and took his lead in many things; while 
there was no one with whom Lord Winterbourne 
could more comfortably discuss county or agricultural 
affairs. In the old days Marcella had somehow tended 
to regard him as a man of few friends. And in a sense 
it was so. He did not easily yield himself; and was 
often thought dull and apathetic by strangers. But 
here, amid these old companions, his delicacy and 
sweetness of disposition had full play; and although, 
now that Marcella was in their house, he came less 
often, and was less free with them than usual, she 
saw enough to make her wonder a little that they 
were all so kind and indulgent to her, seeing that 
they cared so much for him and all that affected 

Well ! she was often judged, humbled, reproached. 

Yet there was a certain irritation in it. Was it all her 

own fault that in her brief engagement she had realised 

him so little? Her heart was sometimes oddly sore; 

[ 201 ] 


her conscience full of smart ; but there were moments 
when she was as combative as ever. 

Nor had certain other experiences of this past 
fortnight been any more soothing to this sore, crav- 
ing sense of hers. It appeared very soon that nothing 
would have been easier for her had she chosen than 
to become the lion of the later season. The story of 
the Batton Street tragedy had, of course, got into the 
papers, and had been treated there with the usual 
adornments of the 'New Journalism/ 

The world which knew the Raeburns or knew of 
them comparatively a large world fell with avid- 
ity on the romantic juxtaposition of names. To lose 
your betrothed as Aldous Raeburn had lost his, and 
then to come across her again in this manner and in 
these circumstances there was a dramatic neatness 
about it to which the careless Fate that governs us 
too seldom attains. London discussed the story a 
good deal ; and would have liked dearly to see and to 
exhibit the heroine. Mrs. Lane in particular, the 
hostess of the House of Commons dinner, felt that she 
had claims, and was one of the first to call at Lady 
Winterbourne's and see her guest. She soon discovered 
that Marcella had no intention whatever of playing 
the lion; and must, in fact, avoid excitement and 
fatigue. But she had succeeded in getting the girl 
to come to her once or twice of an afternoon to meet 
two or three people. It was better for the wounded 
arm that its owner should walk than drive ; and Mrs. 
Lane lived at a convenient distance, at a house in 
Piccadilly, just across the Green Park. 

Here then, as in James Street, Marcella had met in 
[ 202 ] 


discreet succession a few admiring and curious per- 
sons, and had tasted some of the smaller sweets of 
fame. But the magnet that drew her to the Lanes' 
house had been no craving for notoriety ; at the pre- 
sent moment she was totally indifferent to what 
perhaps constitutionally she might have liked; the 
attraction had been simply the occasional presence 
there of Harry Wharton. He excited, puzzled, angered, 
and commanded her more than ever. She could not 
keep herself away from the chance of meeting him. 
And Lady Winterbourne neither knew him, nor ap- 
parently wished to know him a fact which probably 
tended to make Marcella obstinate. 

Yet what pleasure had there been after all in these 
meetings? Again and again she had seen him sur- 
rounded there by pretty and fashionable women, with 
some of whom he was on amazingly easy terms, while 
with all of them he talked their language, and so far 
as she could see to a great extent lived their life. The 
contradiction of the House of Commons evening re- 
turned upon her perpetually. She thought she saw in 
many of his new friends a certain malicious triumph 
in the readiness with which the young demagogue 
had yielded to their baits. No doubt they were at 
least as much duped as he. Like Hallin, she did not 
believe that at bottom he was the man to let himself 
be held by silken bonds if it should be to his interest 
to break them. But, meanwhile, his bearing among 
these people the claims they and their amusement 
made upon his time and his mind seemed to this 
girl, who watched them with her dark, astonished 
eyes, a kind of treachery to his place and his cause. 
[ 203 ] 


It was something she had never dreamed of; and it 
roused her contempt and irritation. 

Then as to herself. He had been all eagerness in 
his inquiries after her from Mrs. Lane; and he never 
saw her in the Piccadilly drawing-room that he did 
not pay her homage, often with a certain extra- 
vagance, a kind of appropriation, which Mrs. Lane 
secretly thought in bad taste, and Marcella sometimes 
resented. On the other hand, things jarred between 
them frequently. From day to day he varied. She 
had dreamt of a great friendship ; but, instead, it was 
hardly possible to carry on the thread of their rela- 
tion from meeting to meeting with simplicity and 
trust. On the Terrace he had behaved, or would have 
behaved, if she had allowed him, as a lover. When 
they met again at Mrs. Lane's he would be sometimes 
devoted in his old paradoxical, flattering vein; some- 
times, she thought, even cool. Nay, once or twice 
he was guilty of curious little neglects towards her, 
generally in the presence of some great lady or other. 
On one of these occasions she suddenly felt herself 
flushing from brow to chin at the thought 'He 
does not want any one to suppose for a moment that 
he wishes to marry me ! ' 

It had taken Wharton some difficult hours to sub- 
due in her the effects of that one moment's fancy. 
Till then it is the simple truth to say that she had 
never seriously considered the possibility of marrying 
him. When it did enter her mind, she saw that it had 
already entered his and that he was full of doubts ! 
The perception had given to her manner an increas- 
ing aloofness and pride which had of late piqued 
[ 204 ] 


Wharton into efforts from which vanity, and, indeed, 
something else, could not refrain, if he was to preserve 
his power. 

So she was sitting by the window this afternoon, in 
a mood which had in it neither simplicity nor joy. 
She was conscious of a certain dull and baffled feeling 
a sense of humiliation which hurt. Moreover, the 
scene of sordid horror she had gone through haunted 
her imagination perpetually. She was unstrung, and 
the world weighed upon her the pity, the ugliness, 
the confusion of it. 

The muslin curtain beside her suddenly swelled out 
in a draught of air, and she put out her hand quickly 
to catch the French window lest it should swing to. 
Some one had opened the door of the room. 

'Did I blow you out of window?' said a girl's voice; 
and there behind her, in a half -timid attitude, stood 
Betty Macdonald, a vision of white muslin, its frills 
and capes a little tossed by the wind, the pointed 
face and golden hair showing small and elf -like under 
the big shady hat. 

'Oh, do come in!' said Marcella, shyly; 'Lady 
Winterbourne will be in directly.' 

'So Panton told me,' said Betty, sinking down on 
a high stool beside Marcella's chair, and taking off 
her hat ; 'and Panton does n't tell me any stories now 
I 've trained him. I wonder how many he tells in the 
day? Don't you think there will be a special little 
corner of Purgatory for London butlers? I hope Pan- 
ton will get off easy!' 

Then she laid her sharp chin on her tiny hand, and 
[ 205 ] 


studied Marcella. Miss Boyce was in the light black 
dress that Minta approved ; her pale face and delicate 
hands stood out from it with a sort of noble emphasis. 
When Betty had first heard of Marcella Boyce as the 
heroine of a certain story, she had thought of her as 
a girl one would like to meet, if only to prick her 
somehow for breaking the heart of a good man. Now 
that she saw her close she felt herself near to falling 
in love with her. Moreover, the incident of the fight 
and of Miss Boyce's share in it had thrilled a creature 
all susceptibility and curiosity; and the little merry 
thing would sit hushed, looking at the heroine of it, 
awed by the thought of what a girl only two years 
older than herself must have already seen of sin -and 
tragedy, envying her with all her heart, and by con- 
trast honestly despising for the moment that 
very happy and popular person, Betty Macdonald ! 

'Do you like being alone?' she asked Marcella, 

Marcella coloured. 

'Well, I was just getting very tired of my own com- 
pany/ she said. 'I was very glad to see you come in.' 

'Were you?' said Betty, joyously, with a little 
gleam in her pretty eyes. Then suddenly the golden 
head bent forward. 'May I kiss you?' she said, in the 
wistfullest, eagerest voice. 

Marcella smiled, and, laying her hand on Betty's, 
shyly drew her. 

'That's better!' said Betty, with a long breath. 

'That's the second milestone; the first was when I 

saw you on the Terrace. Could n't you mark all your 

friendships by little white stones? I could. But the 

[ 206 ] 


horrid thing is when you have to mark them back 
again ! Nobody ever did that with you ! ' 

'Because I have no friends/ said Marcella, quickly; 
then, when Betty clapped her hands in amazement at 
such a speech, she added quickly with a smile, 'except 
a few I make poultices for/ 

'There!' said Betty, enviously, 'to think of being 
really wanted for poultices or anything ! I never 
was wanted in my life ! When I die they '11 put on my 
poor little grave - 

'She's buried here that hizzie Betty; 
She did na gude so don't 'ee fret ye!' 

oh, there they are!' she ran to the window 
' Lady Winterbourne and Ermyntrude. Does n't it 
make you laugh to see Lady Winterbourne doing her 
duties? She gets into her carriage after lunch as one 
might mount a tumbril. I expect to hear her tell the 
coachman to drive to "the scaffold at Hyde Park 
Corner." She looks the unhappiest woman in England 
and all the time Ermyntrude declares she likes it, 
and would n't do without her season for the world ! 
She gives Ermyntrude a lot of trouble, but she is a 
dear a naughty dear and mothers are such a 
chance ! Ermyntrude ! where did you get that bonnet? 
You got it without me and my feelings won't stand 

Lady Ermyntrude and Betty threw themselves on 
a sofa together, chattering and laughing. Lady Win- 
terbourne came up to Marcella and inquired after her. 
She was still slowly drawing off her gloves, when the 
drawing-room door opened again. 
[ 207 ] 


'Tea, Panton!' said Lady Winterbourne, without 
turning her head, and in the tone of Lady Macbeth. 
But the magnificent butler took no notice. 

'Lady Selina Farrell!' he announced, in a firm 

Lady Winterbourne gave a nervous start; then, 
with the air of a person cut out of wood, made a 
slight advance, and held out a limp hand to her 

'Won't you sit down?' she said. 

Anybody who did not know her would have sup- 
posed that she had never seen Lady Selina before. 
In reality she and the Alresfords were cousins. But 
she did not like Lady Selina, and never took any 
pains to conceal it a fact which did not in the 
smallest degree interfere with the younger lady's per- 
formance of her family duties. 

Lady Selina found a seat with easy aplomb, put up 
her bejewelled fingers to draw off her veil, and smil- 
ingly prepared herself for tea. She inquired of Betty 
how she was enjoying herself, and of Lady Ermyn- 
trude how her husband and baby in the country were 
getting on without her. The tone of this last question 
made the" person addressed flush and draw herself up. 
It was put as banter, but certainly conveyed that 
Lady Ermyntrude was neglecting her family for the 
sake of dissipations. Betty meanwhile curled herself 
up in a corner of the sofa, letting one pretty foot 
swing over the other, and watching the newcomer 
with a malicious eye, which instantly and gleefully 
perceived that Lady Selina thought her attitude un- 

[ 208 ] 


Marcella, of course, was greeted and condoled with 
-Lady Selina, however, had seen her since the 
tragedy and then Lady Winterbourne, after every 
item of her family news, and every symptom of her 
own and her husband's health had been rigorously 
inquired into, began to attempt some feeble questions 
of her own how, for instance, was Lord Alresford's 

Lady Selina replied that he was well, but much de- 
pressed by the political situation. No doubt Ministers 
had done their best, but he thought two or three 
foolish mistakes had been made during the session. 
Certain blunders ought at all hazards to have been 
avoided. He feared that the party and the country 
might have to pay dearly for them. But he had done 
his best. 

Lady Winterbourne, whose eldest son was a junior 
whip, had been the recipient, since the advent of the 
new Cabinet, of so much rejoicing over the final ex- 
clusion of 'that vain old idiot, Alresford/ from any 
further chances of muddling a public department, that 
Lady Selina's talk made her at once nervous and 
irritable. She was afraid of being indiscreet ; yet she 
longed to put her visitor down. In her odd, disjointed 
way, too, she took a real interest in politics. Her 
craving, idealist nature mated with a cheery, sports- 
man husband who laughed at her, yet had made her 
happy was always trying to reconcile the ends of 
eternal justice with the measures of the Tory party. 
It was a task of Sisyphus; but she would not let it 

'I do not agree with you/ she said, with cold shy- 
[ 209 ] 


ness in answer to Lady Selina 's concluding laments - 
' I am told our people say we are doing very well 
-except that the session is likely to be dreadfully 

Lady Selina raised both her eyebrows and her 

'Dear Lady Winterbourne ! you really mean it?' 
she said with the indulgent incredulity one shows to 
the simple-minded 'But just think! The session 
will go on/ every one says, till quite the end of Sep- 
tember. Is n't that enough of itself to make a party 
discontented? All our big measures are in dreadful 
arrears. And my father believes so much of the fric- 
tion might have been avoided. He is all in favour of 
doing more for Labour. He thinks these Labour men 
might have been easily propitiated without anything 
revolutionary. It's no good supposing that these poor 
starving people will wait for ever!' 

'Oh!' said Lady Winterbourne, and sat staring at 
her visitor. To those who knew its author well, the 
monosyllable could not have been more expressive. 
Lady Winterbourne 's sense of humour had no voice, 
but inwardly it was busy with Lord Alresford as the 
'friend of the poor.' Alresford! the narrowest and 
niggardliest tyrant alive, so far as his own servants 
and estate were concerned. And as to Lady Selina, 
it was well known to the Winterbourne cousinship 
that she could never get a maid to stay with her six 

'What did you think of Mr. Wharton's speech the 
other night?' said Lady Selina, bending suavely across 
the tea-table to Marcella. 

[ 210 ] 


'It was very interesting,' said Marcella, stiffly - 
perfectly conscious that the name had pricked the 
attention of everybody in the room, and angry with 
her cheeks for reddening. 

'Was n't it?' said Lady Selina, heartily. 'You can't 
do those things, of course ! But you should show every 
sympathy to the clever enthusiastic young men the 
men like that shouldn't you? That's what my 
father says. He says we've got to win them. We've 
got somehow to make them feel us their friends or 
we shall all go to ruin ! They have the voting power 
- and we are the party of education, of refinement. 
If we can only lead that kind of man to see the essen- 
tial justice of our cause and at the same time give 
them our help in reason show them we want to 
be their friends would n't it be best? I don't know 
whether I put it rightly you know so much about 
these things! But we can't undo '67 can we? We 
must get round it somehow must n't we? And my 
father thinks Ministers so unwise ! But perhaps ' - 
and Lady Selina drew herself back with a more gra- 
cious smile than ever ' I ought not to be saying 
these things to you of course I know you used to 
think us Conservatives very bad people but Mr. 
Wharton tells me, perhaps you don't think quite so 
hardly of us as you used ? ' 

Lady Selina 's head in its Paris bonnet fell to one 
side in a gentle, interrogative sort of way. 

Something roused in Marcella. 

'Our cause?' she repeated, while the dark eye 
dilated 'I wonder what you mean?' 

'Well, I mean' - - said Lady Selina, seeking for the 


harmless word, in the face of this unknown explosive- 
looking girl ' I mean, of course, the cause of the 
educated of the people who have made the country/ 

'I think/ said Marcella, quietly, 'you mean the 
cause of the rich, don't you?' 

'Marcella!' cried Lady Winterbourne, catching at 
the tone rather than words 'I thought you did n't 
feel like that any more not about the distance 
between the poor and the rich and our tyranny 
and its being hopeless and the poor always hating 
us I thought you changed/ 

And forgetting Lady Selina, remembering only the 
old talks at Mellor, Lady Winterbourne bent forward 
and laid an appealing hand on Marcella's arm. 

Marcella turned to her with an odd look. 

'If you only knew/ she said, 'how much more 
possible it is to think well of the rich, when you are 
living amongst the poor!' 

'Ah! you must be at a distance from us to do us 
justice?' inquired Lady Selina, settling her bracelets 
with a sarcastic lip. 

'/ must/ said Marcella, looking, however, not at 
her, but at Lady Winterbourne. ' But then, you see ' 
she caressed her friend's hand with a smile 'it 
is so easy to throw some people into opposition !' 

'Dreadfully easy!' sighed Lady Winterbourne. 

The flush mounted again in the girl's cheek. She 
hesitated, then felt driven to explanations. 

'You see oddly enough' she pointed away 

for an instant to the northeast through the open 

window 'it's when I'm over there among the 

people who have nothing that it does me good to 

[ 212 ] 


remember that there are persons who live in James 
Street, Buckingham Gate!' 

'My dear! I don't understand/ said Lady Winter- 
bourne, studying her with her most perplexed and 
tragic air. 

'Well, isn't it simple?' said Marcella, still holding 
her hand and looking up at her. ' It comes, I suppose, 
of going about all day in those streets and houses, 
among people who live in one room with not a bit 
of prettiness anywhere and no place to be alone 
in, or to rest in. I come home and gloat over all 
the beautiful dresses and houses and gardens I can 
think of!' 

'But don't you hate the people that have them?' 
said Betty, again on her stool, chin in hand. 

'No! it doesn't seem to matter to me then what 
kind of people they are. And I don't so much want 
to take from them and give to the others. I only 
want to be sure that the beauty, and the leisure, 
and the freshness are somewhere not lost out of 
the world.' 

'How strange! in a life like yours that one 
should think so much of the ugliness of being poor 
- more than of suffering or pain,' said Betty, mus- 

'Well in some moods you do I do!' said 
Marcella; 'and it is in those moods that I feel least 
resentful of wealth. If I say to myself that the people 
who have all the beauty and the leisure are often 
selfish and cruel after all they die out of their 
houses and their parks, and their pictures, in time, 
like the shell-fish out of its shell. The beauty and the 
[ 213 ] 


grace which they created or inherited remain. And 
why should one be envious of them personally? They 
have had the best chances in the world and thrown 
them away are but poor animals at the end ! At 
any rate I can't hate them they seem to have a 
function when I am moving about Drury Lane ! ' 
she added with a smile. 

'But how can one help being ashamed?' said Lady 
Winterbourne, as her eyes wandered over her pretty 
room, and she felt herself driven somehow into playing 
devil's advocate. 

'No, no !' said Marcella, eagerly, 'don't be ashamed ! 
As to the people who make beauty more beautiful 

who share it and give it I often feel as if I could 
say to them on my knees, " Never, never, be ashamed 
merely of being rich of living with beautiful things, 
and having time to enjoy them ! " One might as well 
be ashamed of being strong rather than a cripple, or 
having two eyes rather than one ! ' 

'Oh, but, my dear!' cried Lady Winterbourne, 
piteous and bewildered, 'when one has all the beauty 
and the freedom and other people must die with- 
out any - 

'Oh, I know, I know!' said Marcella, with a quick 
gesture of despair; 'that's what makes the world the 
world. And one begins with thinking it can be 
changed that it must and shall be changed ! - 
that everybody could have wealth could have 
beauty and rest, and time to think, that is to say - 
if things were different if one could get Socialism 

if one could beat down the capitalist if one 
could level down, and level up, till everybody had 

[ 214 ] 


two hundred pounds a year. One turns and fingers 
the puzzle all day long. It seems so near coming 
right one guesses a hundred ways in which it might 
be done ! Then after a while one stumbles upon doubt 
one begins to see that it never will, never can 
come right not in any mechanical way of that sort 
that that is n't what was meant!' 

Her voice dropped drearily. Betty Macdonald 
gazed at her with a girl's nascent adoration. Lady 
Winterbourne was looking puzzled and unhappy, 
but absorbed like Betty in Marcella. Lady Selina, 
studying the three with smiling composure, was put- 
ting on her veil, with the most careful attention to 
fringe and hairpins. As for Ermyntrude, she was no 
longer on the sofa; she had risen noiselessly, finger 
on lip, almost at the beginning of Marcella's talk, to 
greet a visitor. She and he were standing at the back 
of the room, in the opening of the conservatory, 
unnoticed by any of the group in the bow window. 

'Don't you think/ said Lady Selina, airily, her 
white fingers still busy with her bonnet, 'that it 
would be a very good thing to send all the Radicals 
the well-to-do Radicals, I mean to live among the 
poor? It seems to teach people such extremely useful 

Marcella straightened herself as though some one 
had touched her impertinently. She looked round 

'I wonder what you suppose it teaches?' 

'Well,' said Lady Selina, a little taken aback and 
hesitating;" 'well! I suppose it teaches a person to be 
content and not to cry for the moon !' 
[ 215 ] 


'You think/ said Marcella, slowly, 'that to live 
among the poor can teach any one any one that's 
human to be content! ' 

Her manner had the unconscious intensity of em- 
phasis, the dramatic force that came to her from 
another blood than ours. Another woman could 
hardly have fallen into such a tone without affectation 
without pose. At this moment certainly Betty, 
who was watching her, acquitted her of either, and 
warmly thought her a magnificent creature. 

Lady Selina's feeling simply was that she had been 
roughly addressed by her social inferior. She drew 
herself up. 

'As I understand you/ she said, stiffly, 'you your- 
self confessed that to live with poverty had led you 
to think more reasonably of wealth/ 

Suddenly a movement of Lady Ermyntrude's made 
the speaker turn her head. She saw the pair at the 
end of the room, looked astonished, then smiled. 

'Why, Mr. Raeburn! where have you been hiding 
yourself during this great discussion? Most con- 
soling, was n't it on the whole to us West-End 

She threw back a keen glance at Marcella. Lady 
Ermyntrude and Raeburn came forward. 

'I made him be quiet/ said Lady Ermyntrude, not 
looking, however, quite at her ease; 'it would have 
been a shame to interrupt/ 

'I think so, indeed!' said Lady Selina, with em- 
phasis. 'Good-bye, dear Lady Winterbourne ; good- 
bye, Miss Boyce ! You have comforted me very much ! 
Of course one is sorry for the poor; but it is a great 
[ 216 ] 


thing to hear from anybody who knows as much 
about it as you do, that after all it is no crime 
to possess a little ! ' 

She stood smiling, looking from the girl to the man 
then, escorted by Raeburn in his very stiff est 
manner, she swept out of the room. 

When Aldous came back, with a somewhat slow 
and hesitating step, he approached Marcella, who 
was standing silent by the window, and asked after 
the lame arm. He was sorry, he said, to see that it 
was still in its sling. His tone was a little abrupt. 
Only Lady Winterbourne saw the quick nervousness 
of the eyes. 

'Oh! thank you/ said Marcella, coldly, 'I shall get 
back to work next week/ 

She stooped and took up her book. 

'I must please go and write some letters/ she said, 
in answer to Lady Winterbourne 's flurried look. 

And she walked away. Betty and Lady Ermyn- 
trude also went to take off their things. 

'Aldous!' said Lady Winterbourne, holding out her 
hand to him. 

He took it, glanced unwillingly at her wistful, agi- 
tated face, pressed the hand, and let it go. 

'Isn't it sad/ said his old friend, unable to help 
herself, 'to see her battling like this with life with 
thought all alone? Isn't it sad, Aldous?' 

'Yes/ he said. Then, after a pause, 'Why doesn't 
she go home? My patience gives out when I think 
of Mrs. Boyce.' 

'Oh! it isn't Mrs. Boyce 's fault/ said Lady Win- 
terbourne, hopelessly. 'And I don't know why one 
[ 217 ] 


should be sorry for her particularly why one should 
want her to change her life again. She does it 
splendidly. Only I never, never feel that she is a bit 
happy in it.' 

It was Hallin's cry over again. 

He said nothing for a moment; then he forced a 

'Well! neither you nor I can help it, can we?' he 
said. The grey eyes looked at her steadily bitterly. 
Lady Winterbourne, with the sensation of one who, 
looking for softness, has lit on granite, changed the 

Meanwhile, Marcella upstairs was walking restlessly 
up and down. She could hardly keep herself from 
rushing off back to Brown's Buildings at once. He 
in the room while she was saying those things ! Lady 
Selina's words burnt in her ears. Her morbid, irritable 
sense was all one vibration of pride and revolt. Apo- 
logy appeal under the neatest comedy guise! Of 
course! now that Lord Maxwell was dying, and the 
ill-used suitor was so much the nearer to his earldom. 
A foolish girl had repented her of her folly was 
anxious to make those concerned understand what 
more simple? 

Her nerves were strained and out of gear. Tears 
came in a proud, passionate gush ; and she must needs 
allow herself the relief of them. 

Meanwhile, Lady Selina had gone home full of new 
and uncomfortable feelings. She could not get Mar- 
cella Boyce out of her head neither as she had just 
seen her, under the wing of 'that foolish woman, 
[ 218 '] 


Madeleine Winterbourne,' nor as she had seen her 
first, on the Terrace with Harry Wharton. It did not 
please Lady Selina to feel herself in any way eclipsed 
or even rivalled by such an unimportant person as 
this strange and ridiculous girl. Yet it crossed her 
mind with a stab, as she lay resting on the sofa in 
her little sitting-room before dinner, that never in all 
her thirty-five years had any human being looked into 
her face with the same alternations of eagerness and 
satisfied pleasure she had seen on Harry Wharton 's, 
as he and Miss Boyce strolled the Terrace together 
nor even with such a look as that silly baby Betty 
Macdonald had put on, as she sat on a stool at the 
heroine's feet. 

There was to be a small dinner-party at Alresford 
House that night. Wharton was to be among the 
guests. He was fast becoming one of the habitues of 
the house, and would often stay behind to talk to 
Lady Selina when the guests were gone, and Lord 
Alresford was dozing peacefully in a deep armchair. 

Lady Selina lay still in the evening light, and let her 
mind, which worked with extraordinary shrewdness 
and force in the grooves congenial to it, run over 
some possibilities of the future. 

She was interrupted by the entrance of her maid, 
who, with the quickened breath and heightened colour 
she could not repress when speaking to her formidable 
mistress, told her that one of the younger housemaids 
was very ill. Lady Selina inquired, found that the 
doctor who always attended the servants had been 
sent for, and thought that the illness might turn to 
rheumatic fever. 

[ 219 ] 


'Oh, send her off to the hospital at once!' said Lady 
Selina. 'Let Mrs. Stewart see Dr. Briggs first thing 
in the morning, and make arrangements. You under- 

The girl hesitated, and the candles she was lighting 
showed that she had been crying. 

'If your ladyship would but let her stay/ she said, 
timidly, 'we'd all take our turns at nursing her. She 
comes from Ireland, perhaps you'll remember, my 
lady. She's no friends in London, and she's fright- 
ened to death of going to the hospital.' 

'That's nonsense!' said Lady Selina, sternly. 'Do 
you think I can have all the work of the house put 
out because some one is ill? She might die even- 
one never knows. Just tell Mrs. Stewart to arrange 
with her about her wages, and to look out for some- 
body else at once/ 

The girl's mouth set sullenly as she went about 
her work put out the shining satin dress, the jewels, 
the hairpins, the curling-irons, the various powders 
and cosmetics that were wanted for Lady Selina 's 
toilette, and all the time there was ringing in her 
ears the piteous cry of a little Irish girl, clinging like 
a child to her only friend : ' Marie ! dear Marie ! 
do get her to let me stay I '11 do everything the 
doctor tells me I'll make haste and get well - 
I'll give no trouble. And it's all along of the work 
and the damp up in these rooms the doctor 
said so/ 

An hour later Lady Selina was in the stately draw- 
ing-room of Alresford House, receiving her guests. 
She was out of sorts and temper, and though Wharton 
[ 220 ] 


arrived in due time, and she had the prospect to 
enliven her during dinner when he was of necessity 
parted from her by people of higher rank of a tete- 
h-tete with him before the evening was over, the din- 
ner went heavily. The Duke on her right hand, and 
the Dean on her left, were equally distasteful to her. 
Neither food nor wine had savour; and once, when 
in an interval of talk she caught sight of her father's 
face and form at the further end, growing more vacant 
and decrepit week by week, she was seized with a 
sudden angry pang of revolt and repulsion. Her father 
wearied and disgusted her. Life was often triste and 
dull in the great house. Yet, when the old man should 
have found his grave, she would be a much smaller 
person than she was now, and the days would be so 
much the more tedious. 

Wharton, too, showed less than his usual anima- 
tion. She said to herself at dinner that he had the 
face of a man in want of sleep. His young brilliant 
look was somewhat tarnished, and there was worry 
in the restless eye. And, indeed, she knew that 
things had not been going so favourably for him in 
the House of late that the stubborn opposition 
of the little group of men led by Wilkins was still hin- 
dering that concentration of the party and definition 
of his own foremost place in it which had looked so 
close and probable a few weeks before. She sup- 
posed he had been exhausting himself, too, over that 
shocking Midland strike. The Clarion had been throw- 
ing itself into the battle of the men with a monstrous 
violence, for which she had several times reproached 

[ 221 ] 


When all the guests had gone but Wharton, and 
Lord Alresford, duly placed for the sake of propriety 
in his accustomed chair, was safely asleep, Lady Selina 
asked what was the matter. 

'Oh, the usual thing!' he said, as he leant against 
the mantelpiece beside her. ' The world 's a poor place, 
and my doll's stuffed with sawdust. Did you ever 
know any doll that was n't?' 

She looked up at him a moment without speak- 

'Which means/ she said, 'that you can't get your 
way in the House?' 

'No,' said Wharton, meditatively, looking down at 
his boots. 'No not yet.' 

'You think you will get it some day?' 

He raised his eyes. 

'Oh yes!' he said; 'oh dear, yes! some day.' 

She laughed. 

'You had better come over to us/ 

'Well, there is always that to think of, is n't there? 
You can't deny you want all the new blood you can 

'If you only understood your moment and your 
chance,' she said, quickly, 'you would make the op- 
portunity and do it at once.' 

He looked at her aggressively. 

'How easy it comes to you Tories to rat!' he said. 

'Thank you! it only means that we are the party 
of common sense. Well, I have been talking to your 
Miss Boyce.' 

He started. 


[ 222 ] 


'At Lady Winter-bourne's. Aldous Raeburn was 
there. Your beautiful Socialist was very interesting 
and rather surprising. She talked of the advantages 
of wealth ; said she had been converted by living 
among the poor had changed her mind, in fact, on 
many things. We were all much edified including 
Mr. Raeburn. How long do you suppose that busi- 
ness will remain "off"? To my mind I never saw a 
young woman more eager to undo a mistake/ Then 
she added slowly, 'The accounts of Lord Maxwell get 
more and more unsatisfactory/ 

Wharton stared at her with sparkling eyes. 'How 
little you know her!' he said, not without a tone of 

'Oh ! very well,' said Lady Selina, with the slightest 
shrug of her white shoulders. 

He turned to the mantelpiece and began to play 
with some ornaments upon it. 

'Tell me what she said,' he inquired presently. 

Lady Selina gave her own account of the conversa- 
tion. Wharton recovered himself. 

'Dear me!' he said, when she stopped. 'Yes- 
well we may see another act. Who knows? Well, 
good-night, Lady Selina/ 

She gave him her hand with her usual aristocrat's 
passivity, and he went. But it was late indeed that 
night before she ceased to speculate on what the real 
effect of her words had been upon him. 

As for Wharton, on his walk home he thought of 

Marcella Boyce and of Raeburn with a certain fever 

of jealous vanity which was coming, he told himself, 

dangerously near to passion. He did not believe Lady 

[ 223 ]. 


Selina, but nevertheless he felt that her news might 
drive him into rash steps he could ill afford, and had 
indeed been doing his best to avoid. Meanwhile it was 
clear to him that the mistress of Alresford House had 
taken an envious dislike to Marcella. How plain she 
had looked to-night in spite of her gorgeous dress! 
and how intolerable Lord Alresford grew! 


BUT what right had Wharton to be thinking of 
such irrelevant matters as women and love-making 
at all? He had spoken of public worries to Lady 
Selina. In reality his public prospects in themselves 
were, if anything, improved. It was his private affairs 
that were rushing fast on catastrophe, and threaten- 
ing to drag the rest with them. 

He had never been so hard-pressed for money in 
his life. In the first place his gambling debts had 
mounted up prodigiously of late. His friends were 
tolerant and easy-going. But the more tolerant they 
were the more he was bound to frequent them. And 
his luck for some time had been monotonously bad. 
Before long these debts must be paid, and some of 
them to a figure he shrank from dwelling upon 
were already urgent. 

Then as to the Clarion, it became every week a 
heavier burden. The expenses of it were enormous;, 
the returns totally inadequate. Advertisements wera 
falling off steadily ; and whether the working-cost wer 
cut down, or whether a new and good man like Louis 
Craven, whose letters from the strike district were 
being now universally read, were put on, the result 
financially seemed to be precisely the same. It was 
becoming even a desperate question how the weekly 
expenses were to be met; so that Wharton 's usual 
good temper now deserted him entirely as soon as he 


had crossed the Clarion threshold ; bitterness had be- 
come the portion of the staff, and even the office-boys 
walked in gloom. 

Yet, at the same time, withdrawing from the busi- 
ness was almost as difficult as carrying it on. There 
were rumours in the air which had already seriously 
damaged the paper as a saleable concern. Wharton, 
indeed, saw no prospect whatever of selling except 
at ruinous loss. Meanwhile, to bring the paper to an 
abrupt end would have not only precipitated a number 
of his financial obligations : it would have been, polit- 
ically, a dangerous confession of failure made at a 
very critical moment. For what made the whole 
thing the more annoying was that the Clarion had 
never been so important politically, never so much 
read by the persons on whom Wharton 's parlia- 
mentary future depended, as it was at this moment. 
The advocacy of the Damesley strike had been so far 
a stroke of business for Wharton as a Labour Member. 

It was now the seventh week of the strike, and 
Wharton 's 'leaders,' Craven's letters from the seat of 
war, and the Clarion strike fund, which articles and 
letters had called into existence, were as vigorous 
as ever. The struggle itself had fallen into two chap- 
ters. In the first the metal-workers concerned, both 
men and women, had stood out for the old wages 
unconditionally and had stoutly rejected all idea of 
arbitration. At the end of three or four weeks, how- 
ever, when grave suffering had declared itself among 
an already half-starved population, the workers had 
consented to take part in the appointment of a board 
of conciliation. This board, including the workmen's 
[ 226 ] 


delegates, overawed by the facts of foreign compe- 
tition as they were disclosed by the masters, recom- 
mended terms which would have amounted to a 
victory for the employers. 

The award was no sooner known in the district 
than the passionate indignation of the great majority 
of the workers knew no bounds. Meetings were held 
everywhere; the men's delegates at the board were 
thrown over, and Craven, who with his new wife was 
travelling incessantly over the whole strike area, wrote 
a letter to the Clarion on the award which stated the 
men's case with extreme ability, was immediately 
backed up by Wharton in a tremendous 'leader/ and 
was received among the strikers with tears almost of 
gratitude and enthusiasm. 

Since then all negotiations had been broken off. 
The Clarion had gone steadily against the masters, 
against the award, against further arbitration. The 
theory of the ' living wage/ of which more recent 
days have heard so much, was preached in other 
terms, but with equal vigour ; and the columns of the 
Clarion bore witness day by day in the long lists of 
subscriptions to the strike fund, to the effects of its 
eloquence on the hearts and pockets of English- 

Meanwhile there were strange rumours abroad. It 
was said that the trade was really on the eve of a 
complete and striking revolution in its whole con- 
ditions could this labour war be only cleared out 
of the way. The smaller employers had been for long 
on the verge of ruin ; and the larger men, so report had 
it, were scheming a syndicate on the American plan 
[ 227 ] 


to embrace the whole industry, cut down the costs of 
production, and regulate the output. 

But for this large capital would be wanted. Could 
capital be got? The state of things in the trade, ac- 
cording to the employers, had been deplorable for 
years; a large part of the market had been definitely 
forfeited, so they declared, for good, to Germany 
and Belgium. It would take years before even a 
powerful syndicate could work itself into a thoroughly 
sound condition. Let the men accept the award of 
the conciliation board; let there be some stable and 
reasonable prospect of peace between masters and 
men, say, for a couple of years; and a certain group 
of bankers would come forward; and all would be 
well. The men under the syndicate would in time get 
more than their old wage. But the award first; other- 
wise the plan dropped, and the industry must go its 
own way to perdition. 

' "Will you walk into my parlour?" ' said Wharton, 
scornfully, to the young Conservative Member who, 
with a purpose, was explaining these things to him 
in the Library of the House of Commons, 'the merest 
trap ! and, of course, the men will see it so. Who is to 
guarantee them even the carrying through, much less 
the success, of your precious syndicate? And, in re- 
turn for your misty millennium two years hence, the 
men are to join at once in putting the employers in 
a stronger position than ever? Thank you ! The "rent 
of ability" in the present state of things is, no doubt, 
large. But in this particular case the Clarion will go 
on doing its best I promise you to nibble some 
of it away!' 

[ 228 ] 


The Conservative Member rose in indignation. 

'I should be sorry to have as many starving people 
on my conscience as you'll have before long!' he said 
as he took up his papers. 

At that moment Denny's rotund and square-headed 
figure passed along the corridor, to which the Library 
door stood open. 

'Well, if I thrive upon it as well as Denny does, 
I shall do!' returned Wharton, with his usual caustic 
good-humour, as his companion departed. 

And it delighted him to think as he walked home 
that Denny, who had again of late made himself 
particularly obnoxious in the House of Commons, on 
two or three occasions, to the owner of the Clarion, 
had probably instigated the quasi-overtures he had 
just rejected, and must be by now aware of their 

Then he sent for Craven to come and confer with 

Craven accordingly came up from the Midlands, 
pale, thin, and exhausted, with the exertions and 
emotions of seven weeks' incessant labour. Yet per- 
sonally Wharton found him, as before, dry and un- 
sympathetic; and disliked him, and his cool, am- 
biguous manner, more than ever. As to the strike, 
however, they came to a complete understanding. 
The Clarion, or rather the Clarion fund, which was 
doing better and better, held the key of the whole 
situation. If that fund could be maintained, the men 
could hold out. In view of the possible formation of 
the syndicate, Craven denounced the award with 
more fierceness than ever, maintaining the redoubled 
[ 229 ] 


importance of securing the men's terms before the 
syndicate was launched. Wharton promised him 
with glee that he should be supported to the bitter 

//, that is to say a proviso he did not discuss 
with Craven the Clarion itself could be kept going. 
In August a large sum, obtained two years before 
on the security of new 'plant/ would fall due. The 
time for repayment had already been extended ; and 
Wharton had ascertained that no further extension 
was possible. 

Well ! bankruptcy would be a piquant interlude in 
his various social and political enterprises ! How was 
it to be avoided? He had by now plenty of rich friends 
in the City or elsewhere, but none, as he finally de- 
cided, likely to be useful to him at the present moment. 
For the amount of money that he required was large 
-larger, indeed, than he cared to verify with any 
strictness, and the security that he could offer, 
almost nil. 

As to friends in the City, indeed, the only excursion 
of a business kind that he had made into those regions 
since his election was now adding seriously to his 
anxieties might very well turn out, unless the 
matter were skilfully managed, to be one of the 
blackest spots on his horizon. 

In the early days of his parliamentary life, when, 
again, mostly for the Clarion's sake, money happened 
to be much wanted, he had become director of what 
promised to be an important company, through the 
interest and good-nature of a new and rich acquaint- 
ance, who had taken a liking to the young Member. 
[ 230 ] 


The company had been largely 'boomed/ and there 
had been some very profitable dealing in the original 
shares. Wharton had made two or three thousand 
pounds, and contributed both point and finish to 
some of the early prospectuses. 

Then, after six months, he had withdrawn from 
the Board, under apprehensions that had been grad- 
ually realised with alarming accuracy. Things, in- 
deed, had been going very wrong indeed; there were 
a number of small investors; and the annual meeting 
of the company, to be held now in some ten days, 
promised a storm. Wharton discovered, partly to 
his own amazement, for he was a man who quickly 
forgot, that during his directorate he had devised or 
sanctioned matters that were not at all likely to 
commend themselves to the shareholders, supposing 
the past were really sifted. The ill luck of it was truly 
stupendous; for on the whole he had kept himself 
financially very clean since he had become a Member ; 
having all through a jealous eye to his political 

As to the political situation, nothing could be at 
once more promising or more anxious ! 

An important meeting of the whole Labour group 
had been fixed for August 10, by which time it was 
expected that a great measure concerning Labour 
would be returned from the House of Lords with 
highly disputable amendments. The last six weeks 
of the session would be in many ways more critical 
for Labour than its earlier months had been; and it 
would be proposed by Bennett, at the meeting on the 
[ 231 ] 


10th, to appoint a general chairman of the party, in 
view of a campaign which would fill the remainder of 
the session and strenuously occupy the recess. 

That Bennett would propose the name of the Mem- 
ber for West Brookshire was perfectly well known 
to Wharton and his friends. That the nomination 
would meet with the warmest hostility from Wilkins 
and a small group of followers was also accurately 

To this day, then, Wharton looked forward as to 
the crisis of his parliamentary fortunes. All his 
chances, financial or social, must now be calculated 
with reference to it. Every power, whether of combat 
or finesse, that he commanded must be brought to 
bear upon the issue. 

What was, however, most remarkable in the man 
and the situation at the moment was that, through all 
these gathering necessities, he was by no means con- 
tinuously anxious or troubled in his mind. During 
these days of July he gave himself, indeed, whenever 
he could, to a fatalist oblivion of the annoyances cf 
life, coupled with a passionate pursuit of all those 
interests where his chances were still good and the 
omens still with him. 

Especially during the intervals of ambition, 
intrigue, journalism, and unsuccessful attempts to 
raise money had he meditated the beauty of Mar- 
cella Boyce and the chances and difficulties of his 
relation to her. As he saw her less, he thought of her 
more, instinctively looking to her for the pleasure 
and distraction that life was temporarily denying 
him elsewhere. 

[ 232 ] 


At the same time, curiously enough, the stress of 
his financial position was reflected even in what, to 
himself, at any rate, he was boldly beginning to call 
his ' passion' for her. It had come to his knowledge 
that Mr. Boyce had during the past year succeeded 
beyond all expectation in clearing the Mellor estate. 
He had made skilful use of a railway lately opened 
on the edge of his property ; had sold building-land 
in the neighbourhood of a small country town on the 
line, within a convenient distance of London; had 
consolidated and improved several of his farms and 
re-let them at higher rents; was, in fact, according 
to Wharton's local informant, in a fair way to be 
some day, if he lived, quite as prosperous as his 
grandfather, in spite of old scandals and invalidism. 
Wharton knew, or thought he knew, that he would 
not live, and that Marcella would be his heiress. 
The prospect was not perhaps brilliant, but it was 
something ; it affected the outlook. 

Although, however, this consideration counted, it 
was, to do him justice, Marcella, the creature herself, 
that he desired. But for her presence in his life he 
would probably have gone heiress-hunting with the 
least possible delay. As it was, his growing deter- 
mination to win her, together with his advocacy of 
the Damesley workers amply sufficed, during the 
days that followed his evening talk with Lady Selina, 
to maintain his own illusions about himself and so to 
keep tip the zest of life. 

Yes ! to master and breathe passion into Marcella 
Boyce might safely be reckoned on, he thought, to 
hurry a man's blood. And after it had gone so far 
[ 233 ] 


between them after he had satisfied himself that 
her fancy, her temper, her heart, were all more or 
less occupied with him was he to see her tamely 
recovered by Aldous Raeburn by the man whose 
advancing parliamentary position was now adding 
fresh offence to the old grievance and dislike? No! 
not without a dash a throw for it ! 

For a while, after Lady Selina's confidences, jealous 
annoyance, together with a certain reckless state of 
nerves, turned him almost into the pining lover. For 
he could not see Marcella. She came no more to Mrs. 
Lane ; and the house in James Street was not open to 
him. He perfectly understood that the Winterbournes 
did not want to know him. 

At last Mrs. Lane, a shrewd little woman with a 
half -contemptuous liking for Wharton, let him know 
- on the strength of a chance meeting with Lady 
Ermyntrude that the Winterbournes would be at 
the Masterton party on the 25th. They had persuaded 
Miss Boyce to stay for it, and she would go back to 
her work the Monday after. Wharton carelessly re- 
plied that he did not know whether he would be able 
to put in an appearance at the Mastertons'. He might 
be going out of town. 

Mrs. Lane looked at him and said, 'Oh, really!' 
with a little laugh. 

Lady Masterton was the wife of the Colonial Secre- 
tary, and her grand mansion in Grosvenor Square was 
the principal rival to Alresford House in the hospital- 
ities of the party. Her reception on July 25 was to 
be the last considerable event of a protracted but 
now dying season. Marcella, detained in James Street 
[ 234 ] 


day after day against her will by the weakness of the 
injured arm and the counsels of her doctor, had at 
last extracted permission to go back to work on the 
27th ; and to please Betty Macdonald she had promised 
to go with the Winterbournes to the Masterton party 
on the Saturday. Betty's devotion, shyly as she had 
opened her proud heart to it, had begun to mean a 
good deal to her. There was balm in it for many a 
wounded feeling; and, besides, there was the constant, 
half -eager, half -painful interest of watching Betty's 
free and childish ways with Aldous Raeburn, and of 
speculating upon what would ultimately come out 
of them. 

So, when Betty first demanded to know what she 
was going to wear, and then pouted over the dress 
shown her, Marcella submitted humbly to being 'fresh- 
ened up' at the hands of Lady Ermyntrude's maid, 
bought what Betty told her, and stood still while 
Betty, who had a genius for such things, chatted, and 
draped, and suggested. 

'I would n't make you fashionable for the world!' 
cried Betty, with a mouthful of pins, laying down 
masterly folds of lace and chiffon the while over the 
white satin with which Marcella had provided her. 
'What was it Worth said to me the other day? "Ce 
qu'on porte, Mademoiselle? pas grand 'chose! 
presque pas de corsage, et pas du toutde manches!" 
No, that kind of thing would n't suit you. But dis- 
tinguished you shall be, if I sit up all night to think 
it out!' 

In the end Betty was satisfied, and could hardly 
be prevented from hugging Marcella there and then, 
[ 235 ] 


out of sheer delight in her own handiwork, when at 
last the party emerged from the cloak-room into the 
Mastertons' crowded hall. Marcella too felt pleasure 
in the reflexions of herself as they passed up the 
lavishly bemirrored staircase. The chatter about dress 
in which she had been living for some days had amused 
and distracted her; for there were great feminine 
potentialities in her ; though for eighteen months she 
had scarcely given what she wore a thought, and in her 
pre-nursing days had been wont to waver between a 
kind of proud neglect, which implied the secret con- 
sciousness of beauty, and an occasional passionate de- 
sire to look well. So that she played her part to-night 
very fairly; pinched Betty's arm to silence the elf's 
tongue; and held herself up as she was told, that 
Betty's handiwork might look its best. But inwardly 
the girl's mood was very tired and flat. She was pining 
for her work; pining even for Minta Hurd's peevish 
look, and the children to whom she was so easily an 
earthly providence. 

In spite of the gradual emptying of London, Lady 
Masterton's rooms were very full. Marcella found ac- 
quaintances. Many of the people whom she had met 
at Mrs. Lane's, the two Cabinet Ministers of the House 
of Commons dinner, Mr. Lane himself all were glad 
or eager to recall themselves to her as she stood by 
Lady Winterbourne, or made her way half -absently 
through the press. She talked, without shyness she 
had never been shy, and was perhaps nearer now to 
knowing what it might mean than she had been as a 
school-girl but without heart ; her black eye wander- 
ing meanwhile, as though in quest. There was a gay 
[ 236 ] 


sprinkling of uniforms in the crowd, for the Speaker 
was holding a levee, and as it grew late his guests 
began to set towards Lady Masterton. Betty, who had 
been turning up her nose at the men she had so far 
smiled upon, all of whom she declared were either bald 
or seventy, was a little propitiated by the uniforms; 
otherwise, she pronounced the party very dull. 

'Well, upon my word!' she cried, suddenly, in a 
tone that made Marcella turn upon her. The child 
was looking very red and very upright was using 
her fan with great vehemence, and Frank Leven was 
humbly holding out his hand to her. 

'I don't like being startled,' said Betty, pettishly. 
'Yes, you did startle me you did you did ! And 
then you begin to contradict before I 've said a word ! 
I 'm sure you've been contradicting all the way upstairs 
-and why don't you say "How do you do?" to 
Miss Boyce?' 

Frank, looking very happy, but very nervous, paid 
his respects rather bashfully to Marcella she laughed 
to see how Betty's presence subdued him and then 
gave himself up wholly to Betty's tender mercies. 

Marcella observed them with an eager interest she 
could not wholly explain to herself. It was clear that all 
thought of anything or anybody else had vanished for 
Frank Leven at the sight of Betty. Marcella guessed, 
indeed knew, that they had not met for some little 
time; and she was touched by the agitation and 
happiness on the boy's handsome face. But Betty? 
what was the secret of her kittenish, teasing ways 
or was there any secret? She held her little head very 
high and chattered very fast, but it was not the same 
[ 237 ] 


chatter that she gave to Marcella, nor, so far as Mar- 
cella could judge, to Aldous Raeburn. New elements 
of character came out in it. It was self-confident, 
wilful, imperious. Frank was never allowed to have 
an opinion ; was laughed at before his words were out 
of his mouth; was generally heckled, played with, 
and shaken in a way which seemed alternately to 
enrage and enchant him. In the case of most girls, 
such a manner would have meant encouragement ; but, 
as it was Betty, no one could be sure. The little thing 
was a great puzzle to Marcella, who had found unex- 
pected reserves in her. She might talk of her love- 
affairs to Aldous Raeburn ; she had done nothing of the 
sort with her new friend. And in such matters Mar- 
cella herself was far more reserved than most modern 

'Betty!' cried Lady Winterbourne, 'I am going on 
into the next room/ 

Then in a lower tone she said helplessly to Marcella : 

' Do make her come on ! ' 

Marcella perceived that her old friend was in a fidget. 
Stooping her tall head, she said with a smile : 

'But look how she is amusing herself!' 

'My dear ! that's just it ! If you only knew how 
her mother tiresome woman has talked to me! 
And the young man has behaved so beautifully till 
now has given neither Ermyntrude nor me, any 

Was that why Betty was leading him such a life? 

Marcella wondered, then suddenly was seized 

with a sick distaste for the whole scene for Betty's 

love-affairs for her own interest in them for her 

[ 238 ] 


own self and personality above all. Her great black 
eyes gazed straight before them, unseeing, over the 
crowd, the diamonds, the lights ; her whole being gave 
itself to a quick, blind wrestle with some vague, over- 
mastering pain, some despair of life and joy to which 
she could give no name. 

She was roused by Betty's voice : 

'Mr. Raeburn! will you tell me who people are? 
Mr. Leven's no more use than my fan. Just imagine 
- 1 asked him who that lady in the tiara is and 
he vows he does n't know ! Why, it just seems that 
when you go to Oxford, you leave the wits you had 
before, behind! And then of course' -- Betty af- 
fected a delicate hesitation 'there's the difficulty 
of being quite sure that you'll ever get any new ones! 
but there look ! I'm in despair ! she's van- 
ished and I shall never know ! ' 

'One moment!' said Raeburn, smiling, 'and I will 
take you in pursuit. She has only gone into the tea- 

His hand touched Marcella's. 

'Just a little better/ he said, with a sudden change 
of look, in answer to Lady Winterbourne's question. 
'The account to-night is certainly brighter. They 
begged me not to come, or I should have been off 
some days ago. And next week, I am thankful to say, 
they will be home/ 

Why should she be standing there, so inhumanly 
still and silent? Marcella asked herself. Why not 
take courage again join in talk show sym- 
pathy? But the words died on her lips. After to-night 
- thank Heaven ! she need hardly see him again. 
[ 239 ] 


He asked after herself as usual. Then, just as he 
was turning away with Betty, he came back to her, 

'I should like to tell you about Hallin,' he said, 
gently. 'His sister writes to me that she is happier 
about him, and that she hopes to be able to keep him 
away another fortnight. They are at Keswick/ 

For an instant there was pleasure in the implication 
of common ground, a common interest here if no- 
where else. Then the pleasure was lost in the smart 
of her own strange lack of self-government as she 
made a rather stupid and awkward reply. 

Raeburn's eyes rested on her for a moment. There 
was in them a flash of involuntary expression, which 
she did not notice for she had turned away- 
which no one saw except Betty. Then the child 
followed him to the tea-room, a little pale and 

Marcella looked after them. 

In the midst of the uproar about her, the Babel 
of talk fighting against the Hungarian band, which 
was playing its wildest and loudest in the tea-room, 
she was overcome by a sudden rush of memory. Her 
eyes were tracing the passage of those two figures 
through the crowd; the man in his black court suit, 
stooping his refined and grizzled head to the girl beside 
him, or turning every now and then to greet an ac- 
quaintance, with the manner cordial and pleasant, 
yet never quite gay even when he smiled that she, 
Marcella, had begun to notice of late as a new thing ; 
the girl lifting her small face to him, the gold of her 
hair showing against his velvet sleeve. But the in- 
[ 240 ] 


ward sense was busy with a number of other impres- 
sions, past, and, as it now seemed, incredible. 

The little scene when Aldous had given her the 
pearls, returned so long ago why ! she could see 
the fire blazing in the Stone Parlour, feel his arm 
about her ! the drive home after the Gairsley meet- 
ing that poignant moment in his sitting-room the 
night of the ball his face, his anxious, tender face, 
as she came down the wide stairs of the Court towards 
him on that terrible evening when she pleaded with 
him and his grandfather in vain : had these things, 
incidents, relations, been ever a real part of the living 
world? Impossible! Why, there he was not ten 
yards from her and yet more irrevocably separate 
from her than if the Sahara stretched between them. 
The note of cold distance in his courteous manner 
put her further from him than the merest stranger. 

Marcella felt a sudden terror rush through her as 
she blindly followed Lady Winterbourne ; her limbs 
trembled under her ; she took advantage of a conver- 
sation between her companion and the master of the 
house to sink down for a moment on a settee, where 
she felt out of sight and notice. 

What was this intolerable sense of loss and folly, 
this smarting emptiness, this rage with herself and 
her life? She only knew that whereas the touch, the 
eye of Aldous Raeburn had neither compelled nor 
thrilled her, so long as she possessed his whole heart 
and life now that she had no right to either 
look or caress ; now that he had ceased even to regard 
her as a friend, and was already perhaps making up 
that loyal and serious mind of his to ask from another 
[ 241 ] 


woman the happiness she had denied him; now, 
when it was absurdly too late, she could 

Could what? Passionate, wilful creature that she 
was ! with that breath of something wild and in- 
calculable surging through the inmost places of the 
soul, she went through a moment of suffering as she 
sat pale and erect in her corner brushed against 
by silks and satins, chatted across by this person and 
that such as seemed to bruise all the remaining 
joy and ease out of life. 

But only a moment ! Flesh and blood rebelled. She 
sprang up from her seat ; told herself that she was mad 
or ill ; caught sight of Mr. Lane coming towards them, 
and did her best by smile and greeting to attract him 
to her. 

'You look very white, my dear Miss Boyce/ said 
that cheerful and fatherly person. ' Is it that tiresome 
arm still? Now, don't please go and be a heroine any 


MEANWHILE, in the tea-room, Betty was daintily 
sipping her claret-cup, while Aldous stood by her. 

'No/ said Betty, calmly, looking straight at the 
lady in the tiara who was standing by the buffet, 
'she's not beautiful, and I've torn my dress running 
after her. There's only one beautiful person here 

Aldous found her a seat, and took one himself be- 
side her, in a corner out of the press. But he did not 
answer her remark. 

'Don't you think so, Mr. Aldous?' said Betty, 
persisting, but with a little flutter of the pulse. 

'You mean Miss Boyce?' he said, quietly, as he 
turned to her. 

'Of course!' cried Betty, with a sparkle in her 
charming eyes; 'what is it in her face? It excites me 
to be near her. One feels that she will just have lived 
twice as much as the rest of us by the time she comes 
to the end. You don't mind my talking of her, Mr. 

There was an instant's silence on his part. Then 
he said in a constrained voice, looking away from his 
companion, 'I don't mind it, but I am not going to 
pretend to you that I find it easy to talk of her.' 

'It would be a shame of you to pretend anything,' 
said Betty, fervently, 'after all I've told you! I con- 
fessed all my scrapes to you, turned out all my rubbish 
[ 243 ] 


bag of a heart well, nearly air --she checked her- 
self with a sudden flush 'and you Ve been as kind 
to me as any big brother could be. But you're dread- 
fully lofty, Mr. Aldous! You keep yourself to your- 
self. I don't think it's fair!' 

Aldous laughed. 

'My dear Miss Betty, haven't you found out by 
now that I am a good listener and a bad talker? I 
don't talk of myself or' -- he hesitated 'the things 
that have mattered most to me because, in the 
first place, it does n't come easy to me and, in 
the next, I can't, you see, discuss my own concerns 
without discussing other people's/ 

'Oh, good gracious!' said Betty, 'what you must 
have been thinking about me! I declare I'll never 
tell you anything again!' and, beating her tiny 
foot upon the ground, she sat, scarlet, looking down 
at it. 

Aldous made all the smiling excuses he could muster. 
He had found Betty a most beguiling and attaching 
little companion, both at the Court in the Easter 
Recess, and during the Italian journey. Her total 
lack of reserve, or what appeared so, had been first an 
amazement to him, and then a positive pleasure and 
entertainment. To make a friend of him difficult 
and scrupulous as he was, and now more than ever 
a woman must be at the cost of most of the advances. 
But, after the first evening with him, Betty had made 
them in profusion, without the smallest demur, 
though perfectly well aware of her mother's ambitions. 
There was a tie of cousinship between them, and a 
considerable difference of age. Betty had decided at 
[ 244 ] 


once that a mother was a dear old goose, and that 
great friends she and Aldous Raeburn should be - 
and, in a sense, great friends they were. 

Aldous was still propitiating her, when Lady 
Winterbourne came into the tea-room, followed by 
Marcella. The elder lady threw a hurried and not very 
happy glance at the pair in the corner. Marcella ap- 
peared to be in animated talk with a young journalist 
whom Raeburn knew, and did not look their way. 

'Just one thing!' said Betty, bending forward and 
speaking eagerly in Aldous 's ear. ' It was all a mistake 
- was n't it? Now I know her I feel sure it was. You 
don't you don't really think badly of her?' 

Aldous heard her unwillingly. He was looking away 
from her towards the buffet, when she saw a change in 
the eyes a tightening of the lip a something 
keen and hostile in the whole face. 

'Perhaps Miss Boyce will be less of a riddle to all 
of us before long!' he said, hastily, as though the 
words escaped him. 'Shall we get out of this very 
uncomfortable corner?' 

Betty looked where he had looked, and saw a young 
man greeting Marcella with a manner so emphatic 
and intimate that the journalist had instantly moved 
out of his way. The young man had a noticeable pile 
of fair curls above a very white and rounded forehead. 

'Who is that talking to Miss Boyce?' she asked of 
Aldous; 'I have seen him, but I can't remember the 

'That is Mr. Wharton, the Member for one of our 
divisions,' said Aldous, as he rose from his chair. 

Betty gave a little start, and her brow puckered 
[ 245 ] 


into a frown. As she too rose, she said resentfully to 
Aldous : 

'Well, you have snubbed me!' 

As usual, he could not find the effective or clever 
thing to say. 

'I did not mean to/ he replied, simply; but Betty, 
glancing at him, saw something in his face which 
gripped her heart. A lump rose in her throat. 

'Do let's go and find Ermyntrude ! ' she said. 

But Wharton had barely begun his talk with Mar- 
cella when a gentleman, on his way to the buffet with 
a cup to set down, touched him on the arm. Wharton 
turned in some astonishment and annoyance. He 
saw a youngish, good-looking man, well known to 
him as already one of the most important solicitors 
in London, largely trusted by many rich or eminent 

'May I have a word with you presently?' said Mr. 
Pearson, in a pleasant undertone. 'I have something 
of interest to say to you, and it occurred to me that 
I might meet you to-night. Excuse my interrupting 

He glanced with admiration at Marcella, who had 
turned away. 

Wharton had a momentary qualm. Then it struck 
him that Mr. Pearson's manner was decidedly friendly. 

'In a moment/ he said. 'We might find a corner, 
I think, in that further room/ 

He made a motion of the head towards a little 
boudoir which lay beyond the tea-room. 

Mr. Pearson nodded and passed on. 
[ 246 ] 


Wharton returned to Marcella, who had fallen 
back on Frank Leven. At the approach of the Member 
for West Brookshire, Lady Winterbourne and her 
daughter had moved severely away to the further end 
of the buffet. 

'A tiresome man wants me on business for a mo- 
ment,' he said ; then he dropped his voice a little; 'but 
I have been looking forward to this evening, this 
chance, for days shall I find you here again in five 

Marcella, who had flushed brightly, said that would 
depend on the time and Lady Winterbourne. He 
hurried away with a little gesture of despair. Frank 
followed him with a sarcastic eye. 

'Any one would think he was Prime Minister 
already ! I never met him yet anywhere that he had n't 
some business on hand. Why does he behave as though 
he had the world on his shoulders? Your real swells 
always seem to have nothing to do/ 

' Do you know so many busy people? ' Marcella asked 
him sweetly. 

'Oh, you shan't put me down, Miss Boyce!' said 
the boy, sulkily thrusting his hands into his pockets. 
' I am going to work like blazes this winter, if only my 
dons will let a fellow alone. I say, is n't she ripping 
to-night Betty?' 

And, pulling his moustache in helpless jealousy 
and annoyance, he stared at the Winterbourne 
group across the room, which had been now joined 
by Aldous Raeburn and Betty, standing side by 

'What do you want me to say?' said Marcella, with 
[ 247 ] 


a little cold laugh. 'I shall make you worse if I praise 
her. Please put my cup down/ 

At the same moment she saw Wharton coming back 
to her Mr. Pearson behind him, smiling, and gently 
twirling the seals of his watch-chain. She was in- 
stantly struck by Wharton 's look of excitement, and 
by the manner in which with a momentary glance 
aside at the Winterbourne party he approached her. 

'There is such a charming little room in there/ he 
said, stooping his head to her, 'and so cool after this 
heat. Won't you try it?' 

The energy of his bright eye took possession of her. 
He led the way; she followed. Her dress almost 
brushed Aldous Raeburn as she passed. 

He took her into a tiny room. There was no one 
else there, and he found a seat for her by an open 
window, where they were almost hidden from view 
by a stand of flowers. 

As he sat down again by her, she saw that a de- 
cisive moment had come, and blanched almost to the 
colour of her dress. Oh ! what to do ! Her heart cried 
out vaguely to some power beyond itself for guidance, 
then gave itself up again to the wayward thirst for 

He took her hand strongly in both his own, and 
bending towards her as she sat bowered among the 
scent and colours of the flowers, he made her a pas- 
sionate declaration. From the first moment that he 
had seen her under the Chiltern beeches, so he vowed, 
he had felt in her the supreme, incomparable attrac- 
tion which binds a man to one woman, and one only. 
His six weeks under her father's roof had produced 
[ 248 ] 


in him feelings which he knew to be wrong, without 
thereby finding in himself any power to check them. 
They had betrayed him into a mad moment, which 
he had regretted bitterly because it had given her 
pain. Otherwise his voice dropped and shook, his 
hand pressed hers ' I lived for months on the mem- 
ory of that one instant/ But he had respected her 
suffering, her struggle, her need for rest of mind and 
body. For her sake he had gone away into silence; 
he had put a force upon himself which had alone 
enabled him to get through his parliamentary 

Then, with his first sight of her in that little home- 
ly room and dress so changed, but so lovely ! ev- 
erything admiration, passion had revived with 
double strength. Since that meeting he must have 
often puzzled her, as he had puzzled himself. His life 
had been a series of perplexities. He was not his own 
master ; he was a servant of the cause, in which - 
however foolishly a mocking habit might have led 
him at times to belittle his own enthusiasms and hers 
his life and honour were engaged; and this cause 
and his part in it had been for long hampered, and 
all his clearness of vision and judgement dimmed by 
the pressure of a number of difficulties and worries 
he could not have discussed with her worries prac- 
tical and financial, connected with the Clarion, with 
the experiments he had been carrying out on his 
estate, and with other troublesome matters. He had 
felt a thousand times that his fortunes, political or 
private, were too doubtful and perilous to allow him 
to ask any woman to share them. Then, again, he 
[ 249 ] 


had seen her and his resolution, his scruple, had 
melted in his breast ! 

Well! there were still troubles in front! But he 
was no longer cowed by them. In spite of them, 
he dared now to throw himself at her feet, to ask her 
to come and share a life of combat and of labour, to 
bring her beauty and her mind to the joint conduct 
of a great enterprise. To her a man might show his 
effort and his toil from her he might claim a sym- 
pathy it would be vain to ask of any smaller woman. 

Then suddenly he broke down. Speech seemed to 
fail him. Only his eyes more intense and piercing 
under their straight brows than she had ever known 
them beseeched her his hand sought hers. 

She meanwhile sat in a trance of agitation, mistress 
neither of reason nor of feeling. She felt his spell, as 
she had always done. The woman in her thrilled at 
last to the mere name and neighbourhood of love. The 
heart in her cried out that pain and loss could only 
be deadened so the past could only be silenced by 
filling the present with movement and warm life. 

Yet what tremors of conscience what radical 
distrust of herself and him! And the first articulate 
words she found to say to him were very much what 
she had said to Aldous so long ago only filled with 
a bitterer and more realised content. 

'After all, what do we know of each other! You 
don't know me not as I am. And I feel - 

'Doubts?' he said, smiling. 'Do you imagine that 

that seems anything but natural to me? / can have 

none ; but you after all, we are not quite boy and 

girl, you and I; we have lived, both of us! But ask 

[ 250 ] 


yourself has not destiny brought us together? 
Think of it all!' 

Their eyes met again. Hers sank under the penetra- 
tion, the flame of his. Yet, throughout, he was con- 
scious of the doorway to his right, of the figures in- 
cessantly moving across it. His own eloquence had 
convinced and moved himself abundantly. Yet, as 
he saw her yielding, he was filled with the strangest 
mixture of passion and a sort of disillusion al- 
most contempt ! If she had turned from him with the 
dignity worthy of that head and brow, it flashed across 
him that he could have tasted more of the abandon- 
ment of love have explored his own emotion more 

Still, the situation was poignant enough in one 
sense complete. Was Raeburn still there in that 
next room? 

'My answer?' he said to her, pressing her hand 
as they sat in the shelter of the flowers. For he was 
aware of the practical facts the hour, the place if 
she was not. 

She roused herself. 

' I can't/ she said, making a movement to rise, which 
his strong grasp, however, prevented. 'I can't answer 
you to-night, Mr. Wharton. I should have much to 
think over so much ! It might all look quite differ- 
ent to me. You must give me time.' 

'To-morrow?' he said, quietly. 

'No!' she said, impetuously, 'not to-morrow; I go 
back to my work, and I must have quiet and time. 
In a fortnight not before. I will write.' 

'Oh, impossible!' he said, with a little frown. 


And still holding her, he drew her towards him. 
His gaze ran over the face, the warm whiteness under 
the lace of the dress, the beautiful arms. She shrank 
from it feeling a sudden movement of dislike and 
fear; but before she could disengage herself he had 
pressed his lips on the arm nearest to him. 

'I gave you no leave!' she said, passionately, under 
her breath, as he let her go. 

He met her flashing look with tender humbleness. 

'MareeOa! 9 

The word was just breathed into the air. She wav- 
ered yet a chill had passed over her. She could not 
recover the moment of magic. 

'Not to-morrow/ she repeated, steadily, though 
dreading lest she should burst into tears, 'and not till 
I see clearly till I can ' She caught her breath. 
'Now I am going back to Lady Winterbourne.' 


FOR some hours after he reached his own room, 
Wharton sat in front of his open window, sunk in 
the swift rushing of thought, as a bramble sways in 
a river. The July night first paled, then flushed into 
morning; the sun rose above the empty street and 
the light mists enwrapping the great city, before he 
threw himself on his bed, exhausted enough at last 
to fall into a restless sleep. 

The speculation of those quick-pulsed hours was in 
the end about equally divided between Marcella 
and the phrases and turns of his interview with Mr. 
Pearson. It was the sudden leap of troubled excite- 
ment stirred in him by that interview heightened 
by the sight of Raeburn that had driven him past 
recall by the most natural of transitions, into his de- 
claration to Marcella. 

But he had no sooner reached his room than, at 
first with iron will, he put the thought of Marcella, 
of the scene which had just passed, away from him. 
His pulses were still quivering. No matter ! It was the 
brain he had need of. He set it coolly and keenly to work. 

Mr. Pearson? Well ! Mr. Pearson had offered him 
a bribe; there could be no question as to that. His 
clear sense never blinked the matter for an instant. 
Nor had he any illusions as to his own behaviour. 
Even now he had no further right to the sleep of the 
honest man. 

[ 253 ] 


Let him realise, however, what had happened. He 
had gone to Lady Masterton's party, in the temper 
of a man who knows that ruin is upon him, and de- 
termined, like the French criminal, to exact his cigar 
and eau de vie before the knife falls. Never had things 
looked so desperate; never had all resource seemed 
to him so completely exhausted. Bankruptcy must 
come in the course of a few weeks; his entailed pro- 
perty would pass into the hands of a receiver; and 
whatever recovery might be ultimately possible, by 
the end of August he would be, for the moment, so- 
cially and politically undone. 

There could be no question of his proposing seriously 
to Marcella Boyce. Nevertheless, he had gone to Lady 
Masterton's on purpose to meet her ; and his manner 
on seeing her had asserted precisely the same intimate 
claim upon her, which, during the past six weeks, had 
alternately attracted and repelled her. 

Then Mr. Pearson had interrupted. 

Wharton, shutting his eyes, could see the great man 
lean against the window-frame close to the spot where, 
a quarter of an hour later, Marcella had sat among the 
flowers the dapper figure, the long, fair moustaches, 
the hand playing with the eye-glass. 

'I have been asked er er ' - - what a conceited 
manner the fellow had! 'to get some conversation 
with you, Mr. Wharton, on the subject of the Dames- 
ley strike. You give me leave?' 

Whereupon, in less than ten minutes, the speaker 
had executed an important commission, and, in offer- 
ing Wharton a bribe of the most barefaced kind, had 
also found time for supplying him with a number 
[ 254 ] 


of the most delicate and sufficient excuses for taking 

The masters, in fact, sent an embassy. They fully 
admitted the power of the Clarion and its owner. No 
doubt, it would not be possible for the paper to keep 
up its strike fund indefinitely ; there were perhaps al- 
ready signs of slackening. Still it had been maintained 
for a considerable time ; and so long as it was reckoned 
on, in spite of the widespread misery and suffer- 
ing now prevailing, the men would probably hold 

In these circumstances, the principal employers con- 
cerned had thought it best to approach so formidable 
an opponent and to put before him information which 
might possibly modify his action. They had author- 
ised Mr. Pearson to give him a full account of what 
was proposed in the way of reorganisation of the 
trade, including the probable advantages which the 
work-people themselves would be likely to reap from 
it in the future. 

Mr. Pearson ran in a few sentences through the 
points of the scheme. Wharton stood about a yard 
away from him, his hands in his pockets, a little pale 
and frowning looking intently at the speaker. 

Then Mr. Pearson paused and cleared his throat. 

Well ! that was the scheme. His principals be- 
lieved that, when both it and the employers' deter- 
mination to transfer their business to the Continent 
rather than be beaten by the men were made fully 
known to the owner of the Clarion, it must affect 
his point of view. Mr. Pearson was empowered to 
give him any details he might desire. Meanwhile 
[ 255 ] 


so confident were they in the reasonableness of the 
case that they even suggested that the owner of 
the Clarion himself should take part in the new Syn- 
dicate. On condition of his future co-operation it 
being understood that the masters took their stand 
irrevocably on the award the men at present re- 
sponsible for the formation of the Syndicate proposed 
to allot Mr. Wharton ten founders' shares in the new 

Wharton, sitting alone, recalling these things, was 
conscious again of that start in every limb, that sud- 
den rush of blood to the face, as though a lash had 
struck him. 

For in a few seconds his mind took in the situation. 
Only the day before, a City acquaintance had said to 
him, ' If you and your confounded paper were out of 
the way, and this thing could be placed properly 
on the market, there would be a boom in it at once. 
I am told that in twenty-four hours the founders' 
shares would be worth 2,OOOZ. apiece!' 

There was a pause of silence/ Then Wharton threw 
a queer dark look at the solicitor, and was conscious 
that his pulse was thumping. 

'There can be no question I think, Mr. Pearson 
between you and me as to the nature of such a 
proposal as that!' 

'My dear sir,' Mr. Pearson had interrupted hastily; 
'let me, above all, ask you to take time time enough, 
at any rate, to turn the matter well over in your mind. 
The interests of a great many people, besides yourself, 
are concerned. Don't give me an answer to-night; 
it is the last thing I desire. I have thrown out my 
[ 256 ] 


suggestion. Consider it. To-morrow is Sunday. If 
you are disposed to carry it further, come and see 
me Monday morning that's all. I will be at your 
service at any hour, and I can then give you a much 
more complete outline of the intentions of the Com- 
pany. Now I really must go and look for Mrs. Pearson's 

Wharton followed the great man half -mechanically 
across the little room, his mind in a whirl of mingled 
rage and desire. Then suddenly he stopped his com- 
panion : 

'Has George Denny anything to do with this pro- 
posal, Mr. Pearson?' 

Mr. Pearson paused, with a little air of vague 

'George Denny? Mr. George Denny, the Member 
for Westropp? I have had no dealings whatever with 
that gentleman in the matter/ 

Wharton let him pass. 

Then as he himself entered the tea-room, he per- 
ceived the bending form of Aldous Raeburn chatting 
to Lady Winterbourne on his right, and that tall 
whiteness close in front, waiting for him. 

His brain cleared in a flash. He was perfectly con- 
scious that a bribe had just been offered him, of the 
most daring and cynical kind, and that he had re- 
ceived the offer in the tamest way. An insult had 
been put upon him which had for ever revealed the 
estimate held of him by certain shrewd people, for 
ever degraded him in his own eyes. 

Nevertheless, he was also conscious that the thing 
was done. The bribe would be accepted, the risk taken. 
[ 257 ] 


So far as his money matters were concerned he was 
once more a free man. The mind had adjusted itself, 
reached its decision in a few minutes. 

And the first effect of the mingled excitement and 
self-contempt which the decision brought with it 
had been to drive him into the scene with Marcella. 
Instinctively he asked of passion to deliver him quickly 
from the smart of a new and very disagreeable ex- 

Well! why should he not take these men's offer? 

He was as much convinced as they that this whole 
matter of the strike had of late come to a deadlock. 
So long as the public would give, the workers, pas- 
sionately certain of the justice of their own cause, and 
filled with new ambitions after more decent living, 
would hold out. On the other hand, he perfectly under- 
stood that the masters had also in many ways a strong 
case, that they had been very hard hit by the strike, 
and that many of them would rather close their 
works or transfer them bodily to the Continent 
than give way. Some of the facts Pearson had found 
time to mention had been certainly new and strik- 

At the same time he never disguised from himself 
for an instant that but for a prospective 20,0002. the 
facts concerned would not have affected him in the 
least. Till to-night it had been to his interest to back 
the strike, and to harass the employers. Now things 
were changed; and he took a curious satisfaction in 
the quick movements of his own intelligence, as his 
thought rapidly sketched the 'curve' the Clarion would 
[ 258 ] 


have to take, and the arguments by which he would 
commend it. 

As to his shares, they would be convertible of course 
into immediate cash. Some men of straw would be 
forthcoming to buy what he would possess in the name 
of another man of straw. It was not supposed he 
took for granted by the men who had dared to 
tempt him, that he would risk his whole political re- 
putation and career for anything less than a bird in 
the hand. 

Well ! what were the chances of secrecy? 

Naturally they stood to lose less by disclosure, a 
good deal, than he did. And Denny, one of the prin- 
cipal employers, was his personal enemy. He would 
be likely enough for the present to keep his name out 
of the affair. But no man of the world could suppose 
that the transaction would pass without his knowledge. 
Wharton's own hasty question to Mr. Pearson on the 
subject seemed to himself now, in cold blood, a re- 
markably foolish one. 

He walked up and down thinking this point out. 
It was the bitter pill of the whole affair. 

In the end, with a sudden recklessness of youth and 
resource he resolved to dare it. There would not be 
much risk. Men of business do not as a rule blazon 
their own dirty work, and public opinion would be 
important to the new Syndicate. 

Some risk, of course, there would be. Well ! his risks, 
as they stood, were pretty considerable. He chose the 
lesser not without something of a struggle, some 
keen personal smart. He had done a good many mean 
and questionable things in his time, but never any- 
[ 259 ] 


thing as gross as this. The thought of what his relation 
to a certain group of men to Denny especially 
would be in the future, stung sharply. But it is the 
part of the man of action to put both scruple and fear 
behind him on occasion. His career was in question. 

Craven? Well, Craven would be a difficulty. He 
would telegraph to him first thing in the morning 
before the offices closed, and see him on Monday. For 
Marcella 's sake the man must be managed some- 

And Marcella ! How should she ever know, ever 
suspect ! She already disliked the violence with which 
the paper had supported the strike. He would find 
no difficulty whatever in justifying all that she or 
the public would see, to her. 

Then insensibly he let his thoughts glide into think- 
ing of the money. Presently he drew a sheet of paper 
towards him and covered it with calculations as to 
his liabilities. By George! how well it worked out! 
By the time he threw it aside, and walked to the win- 
dow for air, he already felt himself a bona-fide sup- 
porter of the Syndicate the promoter in the public 
interest of a just and well-considered scheme. 

Finally, with a little joyous energetic movement 
which betrayed the inner man, he flung down his cigar- 
ette, and turned to write an ardent letter to Marcella, 
while the morning sun stole into the dusty room. 

Difficult? of course! Both now and in the future. 
It would take him half his time yet and he could 
ill afford it to bring her bound and captive. He 
recognised in her the Southern element, so strangely 
mated with the moral English temper. Yet he smiled 
[ 260 ] 


over it. The subtleties of the struggle he foresaw 
enchanted him. 

And she would be mastered! In this heightened 
state of nerve his man's resolution only rose the more 
fiercely to the challenge of her resistance. 

Nor should she cheat him with long delays. His 
income would be his own again, and life decently easy. 
He already felt himself the vain showman of her 

A thought of Lady Selina crossed his mind, produc- 
ing amusement and compassion indulgent amuse- 
ment, such as the young man is apt to feel towards 
the spinster of thirty-five who pays him attention. 
A certain sense of rehabilitation, too, which at the 
moment was particularly welcome. For, no doubt, 
he might have married her and her fortune had he so 
chosen. As it was, why did n't she find some needy 
boy to take pity on her? There were plenty going, 
and she must have abundance of money. Old Aires- 
ford, too, was fast doddering off the stage, and then 
where would she be without Alresford House, or 
Busbridge, or those various other pedestals which had 
hitherto held her aloft? 

Early on Sunday morning Wharton telegraphed to 
Craven, directing him to 'come up at once for con- 
sultation/ The rest of the day the owner of the Clarion 
spent pleasantly on the river with Mrs. Lane and a 
party of ladies, including a young duchess, who was 
pretty, literary, and socialistic. At night he went 
down to the Clarion office, and produced a leader on 
the position of affairs at Damesley which, to the prac- 
[ 261 ] 


tised eye, contained one paragraph but one only 
wherein the dawn of a new policy might have been 

Naturally the juxtaposition of events at the moment 
gave him considerable anxiety. He knew very well 
that the Damesley bargain could not be kept waiting. 
The masters were losing heavily every day, and were 
not likely to let him postpone the execution of his 
part of the contract for a fortnight or so to suit his 
own convenience. It was like the sale of an 'old 
master/ His influence must be sold now at the 
right moment or not at all. 

At the same time it was very awkward. In one 
short fortnight the meeting of the party would be 
upon him. Surrender on the Damesley question 
would give great offence to many of the Labour 
Members. It would have to be very carefully man- 
aged very carefully thought out. 

By eleven o'clock on Monday he was in Mr. Pearson's 
office. After the first involuntary smile, concealed by 
the fair moustaches, and instantly dismissed, with 
which the eminent lawyer greeted the announcement 
of his visitor's name, the two augurs carried through 
their affairs with perfect decorum. Wharton realised, 
indeed, that he was being firmly handled. Mr. Pear- 
son gave the Clarion a week in which to accomplish 
its retreat and drop its strike fund. And the fund was 
to be 'checked' as soon as possible. 

A little later, when Wharton abruptly demanded 
a guarantee of secrecy, Mr. Pearson allowed himself 
his first visible smile. 

'My dear sir, are such things generally made public 
[ 262 ] 


property? I can give you no better assurance than 
you can extract yourself from the circumstances. As 
to writing well ! I should advise you very 
strongly against anything of the sort. A long 
experience has convinced me that in any deli- 
cate negotiation the less that is written the bet- 

Towards the end Wharton turned upon his com- 
panion sharply, and asked : 

'How did you discover that I wanted money?' 

Mr. Pearson lifted his eyebrows pleasantly. 

'Most of the things in this world, Mr. Wharton, 
that one wants to know, can be found out. Now 
I have no wish to hurry you not in the least, but 
I may perhaps mention that I have an important 
appointment directly. Don't you think we might 
settle our business?' 

Wharton was half-humorously conscious of an in- 
Ward leap of fury with the necessities which had 
given this man to whom he had taken an in- 
stantaneous dislike the power of dealing thus 
summarily with the Member for West Brookshire. 
However, there was no help for it ; he submitted, and 
twenty minutes afterwards he left Lincoln's Inn 
carrying documents in the breast-pocket of his coat 
which, when brought under his bankers' notice, 
would be worth to him an immediate advance of 
some eight thousand pounds. The remainder of the 
purchase-money for his 'shares' would be paid over 
to him as soon as his part of the contract had been 
carried out. 

He did not, however, go to his bank, but straight to 
[ 263 ] 


the Clarion office, where he had a midday appoint- 
ment with Louis Craven. 

At first sight of the tall, narrow-shouldered form 
and anxious face waiting for him in his private room, 
Wharton felt a movement of ill-humour. 

Craven had the morning's Clarion in his hand. 

'This cannot mean' --he said, when they had ex- 
changed a brief salutation 'that the paper is back- 
ing out?' 

He pointed to the suspicious paragraph in Wharton 's 
leader, his delicate features quivering with an excite- 
ment he could ill repress. 

'Well, let us sit down and discuss the thing,' said 
Wharton, closing the door, 'that's what I wired to you 

He offered Craven a cigarette, which was refused, 
took one himself, and the two men sat confronting 
each other with a writing-table between them. Whar- 
ton was disagreeably conscious at times of the stiff 
papers in his coat-pocket, and was perhaps a little 
paler than usual. Otherwise he showed no trace of 
mental disturbance; and Craven, himself jaded and 
sleepless, was struck with a momentary perception 
of his companion's boyish good looks the tumbling 
curls, that Wharton straightened now and then, the 
charming blue eyes, the athlete's frame. Any stranger 
would have taken Craven for the older man ; in reality 
it was the other way. 

The conversation lasted nearly an hour. Craven 

exhausted both argument and entreaty, though 

when the completeness of the retreat resolved upon 

had been disclosed to him, the feeling roused in him 

[ 264 ] 


was so fierce that he could barely maintain his com- 
posure. He had been living among scenes of starva- 
tion and endurance, which, to his mind, had all the 
character of martyrdom. These men and women were 
struggling for two objects the power to live more 
humanly, and the free right of combination to 
both of which, if need were, he would have given his 
own life to help them without an instant's hesitation. 
Behind his blinking manner he saw everything with 
the idealist's intensity, the reformer's passion. To be 
fair to an employer was not in his power. To spend 
his last breath, were it called for, in the attempt to 
succour the working-man against his capitalist op- 
pressors, would have seemed to him the merest matter 
of course. 

And his mental acuteness was quite equal to his 
enthusiasm, and far more evident. In his talk with 
Wharton, he for a long time avoided, as before, out 
of a certain inner disdain, the smallest touch of senti- 
ment. He pointed out what, indeed, Wharton 
well knew that the next two or three weeks of the 
strike would be the most critical period in its history ; 
that, if the work-people could only be carried through 
them, they were almost sure of victory. He gave his 
own reasons for believing that the employers could 
ultimately be coerced, he offered proof of yielding 
among them, proof also that the better men in their 
ranks were fully alive to and ashamed of the condition 
of the workers. As to the Syndicate, he saw no ob- 
jection to it, provided the workers' claims were first 
admitted. Otherwise it would only prove a more 
powerful engine of oppression. 
[ 2S5 ] 


Wharton 's arguments may perhaps be left to the 
imagination. He would have liked simply to play 
the proprietor and the master to say, 'This is my 
decision, those are my terms take my work or 
leave it.' But Craven was Miss Boyce's friend; he 
was also a Venturist. Chafing under both facts, 
Wharton found that he must state his case. 

And he did state it with his usual ability. He laid 
great stress on 'information from a private source 
which I cannot disregard/ to the effect that, if the 
resistance went on, the trade would be broken up; 
that several of the largest employers were on the 
point of making arrangements for Italian factories. 

'I know/ he said, finally, 'that but for the Clarion 
the strike would drop. Well ! I have come to the con- 
clusion that the responsibility is too heavy. I shall 
be doing the men themselves more harm than good. 
There is the case in a nutshell. We differ I can't 
help that. The responsibility is mine.' 

Craven rose with a quick, nervous movement. The 
prophet spoke at last. 

'You understand/ he said, laying a thin hand on 
the table, 'that the condition of the workers in this 
trade is infamous! that the award and your action 
together plunge them back into a state of things 
which is a shame and a curse to England ! ' 

Wharton made no answer. He, too, had risen, and 
was putting away some papers in a drawer. A tremor 
ran through Craven's tall frame; and for an instant, 
as his eye rested on his companion, the idea of foul 
play crossed his mind. He cast it out, that he might 
deal calmly with his own position. 
[ 266 ] 


'Of course, you perceive/ he said, as he took up his 
hat, 'that I can no longer on these terms remain the 
Clarion's correspondent. Somebody else must be 
found to do this business/ 

'I regret your decision, immensely/ said Wharton, 
with perfect suavity, 'but of course I understand it. 
I trust, however, that you will not leave us altogether. 
I can give you plenty of work that will suit you. Here, 
for instance' he pointed to a pile of Blue Books 
from the Labour Commission lying on the table 'are 
a number of reports that want analysing and putting 
before the public. You could do them in town at your 

Craven struggled with himself. His first instinct 
was to fling the offer in Wharton's face. Then he 
thought of his wife; of the tiny new household just 
started with such small, happy, self-denying shifts; 
of the woman's inevitable lot, of the hope of a 

'Thank you/ he said, in a husky voice. 'I will 
consider, I will write/ 

Wharton nodded to him pleasantly, and he went. 

The owner of the Clarion drew a long breath. 

'Now I think on the whole it would serve my pur- 
pose best to sit down and write to her after that. 
It would be well that my account should come first.* 

A few hours later, after an interview with his bankers 
and a further spell of letter-writing, Wharton de- 
scended the steps of his club in a curious restless state. 
The mortgage on the Clarion had been arranged for, 
his gambling debts settled, and all his other money 
matters were successfully in train. Nevertheless, the 
[ 267 ] 


exhilaration of the morning had passed into misgiving 
and depression. 

Vague presentiments hung about him all day, 
whether in the House of Commons or elsewhere, and 
it was not till he found himself on his legs at a crowded 
meeting at Rotherhithe, violently attacking the Gov- 
ernment Bill and the House of Lords, that he recov- 
ered that easy confidence in the general favourable- 
ness of the universe to Harry Wharton, and Harry 
Wharton's plans, which lent him so much of his power. 

A letter from Marcella written before she had 
received either of his reached him at the House 
just before he started for his meeting. A touching 
letter ! yet with a certain resolution in it which dis- 
concerted him. 

'Forget, if you will, everything that you said to me 
last night. It might be I believe it would be best 
for us both. But if you will not if I must give my 
answer, then, as I said, I must have time. It is only 
quite recently that I have realised the enormity of 
what I did last year. I must run no risks of so wrench- 
ing my own life or another's a second time. Not 
to be sure is for me torment. Why perfect simplicity 
of feeling which would scorn the very notion of 
questioning itself seems to be beyond me, I do not 
know. That it is so fills me with a sort of shame and 
bitterness. But I must follow my nature. 

'So let me think it out. I believe you know, for one 
thing, that your "cause," your life work, attracts me 
strongly. I should not any longer accept all you say, 
as I did last year. But mere opinion matters infinitely 
less to me than it did. I can imagine now agreeing 
[ 268 ] 


with a friend "in everything except opinion. " All that 
would matter to me now would be to feel that your 
heart was wholly in your work, in your public acts, 
so that I might still admire and love all that I might 
differ from. But there for we must be frank with 
each other is just my difficulty. Why do you do so 
many contradictory things? Why do you talk of the 
poor, of labour, of self-denial, and live whenever you 
can with the idle rich people, who hate all three in 
their hearts? You talk their language ; you scorn what 
they scorn, or so it seems ; you accept their standards. 
Oh ! to be really " consecrate " in heart and thought 
I could give my life so easily, so slavishly even ! There 
is no one weaker than I in the world. I must have 
strength to lean upon and a strength, pure at the 
core, that I can respect and follow. 

'Here in this nursing-life of mine, I go in and out 
among people to the best of whom life is very real and 
simple and often, of course, very sad. And I am 
another being in it from what I was at Lady Winter- 
bourne's. Everything looks differently to me. No, 
no! you must please wait till the inner voice speaks 
so that I can hear it plainly for your sake at least 
as much as for mine. If you persisted in coming to 
see me now, I should have to put an end to it all.' 

'Strange is the modern woman 1 / thought Wharton 
to himself, not without sharp pique, as he pondered 
that letter in the course of his drive home from the 
meeting. 'I talk to her of passion, and she asks me 
in return why I do things inconsistent with my po- 
litical opinions! puts me through a moral catechism, 
in fact ! What is the meaning of it all confound 
[ 269 ] 


it! her state of mind and mine? Is the good old 
ars amandi perishing out of the world? Let some 
Stendhal come and tell us why!' 

But he sat up to answer her, and could not get free 
from an inward pleading or wrestle with her, which 
haunted him through all the intervals of these rapid 

Life while they lasted was indeed a gymnast's con- 
test of breath and endurance. The Clarion made its 
retreat in Wharton 's finest style, and the fact rang 
through labouring England. The strike-leaders came 
up from the Midlands; Wharton had to see them. 
He was hotly attacked in the House privately, and 
even publicly by certain of his colleagues. Bennett 
showed concern and annoyance. Meanwhile the Con- 
servative papers talked the usual employers' political 
economy; and the Liberal papers, whose support of 
the strike had been throughout perfunctory, and of no 
particular use to themselves or to other people, took 
a lead they were glad to get, and went in strongly for 
the award. 

Through it all Wharton showed extraordinary skill. 
The columns of the Clarion teemed with sympathetic 
appeals to the strikers, flanked by long statements 
of 'hard fact' the details of foreign competition 
and the rest, the plans of the masters freely sup- 
plied him by Mr. Pearson. With Bennett and his col- 
leagues in the House he took a bold line; admitted 
that he had endangered his popularity both inside 
Parliament and out of it at a particularly critical mo- 
ment ; and implied, though he did not say, that some 
men were still capable of doing independent things 
[ 270 ] 


to their own hurt. Meanwhile he pushed a number of 
other matters to the front, both in the paper and in 
his own daily doings. He made at least two important 
speeches in the provinces, in the course of these days, 
on the Bill before the House of Lords ; he asked ques- 
tions in Parliament on the subject of the wages paid 
to Government employes; and he opened an attack 
on the report of a certain Conservative Commission 
which had been rousing the particular indignation of 
a large mass of South London working-men. 

At the end of ten days the strike was over; the 
workers, sullen and enraged, had submitted, and the 
plans of the Syndicate were in all the papers. Whar- 
ton, looking round him, realised to his own amazement 
that his political position had rather gained than suf- 
fered. The general impression produced by his action 
had been on the whole that of a man strong enough 
to take a line of his own, even at the risk of unpopu- 
larity. There was a new tone of respect among his 
opponents, and, resentful as some of the Labour Mem- 
bers were, Wharton did not believe that what he had 
done would ultimately damage his chances on the 10th 
at all. He had vindicated his importance, and he held 
his head high, adopting towards his chances of the 
leadership a strong and careless tone that served him 

Meanwhile there were, of course, clever people be- 
hind the scenes who looked on and laughed. But they 
held their tongues, and Wharton, who had carefully 
avoided the mention of names during the negotiations 
with Pearson, did his best to forget them. He felt un- 
comfortable, indeed, when he passed the portly Denny 
[ 271 ] 


in the House or in the street. Denny had a way of 
looking at the Member for West Brookshire out of the 
corner of a small, slit-like eye. He did it more than 
usual during these days, and Wharton had only to say 
to himself that for all things there is a price which 
the gods exact. 

Wilkins, since the first disclosure of the Clarion 
change of policy, had been astonishingly quiet. Whar- 
ton had made certain of violent attack from him. On 
the contrary, Wilkins wore now in the House a sub- 
dued and preoccupied air that escaped notice even 
with his own party in the general fulness of the public 
mind. A few caustic North-country isms on the sub- 
ject of the Clarion and its master did indeed escape 
him now and then, and were reported from mouth to 
mouth ; but on the whole he lay very low. 

Still, whether in elation or anxiety, Wharton seemed 
to himself throughout the whole period to be a fighter, 
straining every muscle, his back to the wall and his 
hand against every man. There at the end of the 
fortnight stood the three goal-posts that must be 
passed, in victory or defeat: the meeting that would 
for the present decide his parliamentary prospects, his 
interview with Marcella, and the confounded annual 
meeting of the 'People's Banking Company/ with all 
its threatened annoyances. 

He became, indeed, more and more occupied with 
this latter business as the days went on. But he could 
see no way of evading it. He would have to fight it; 
luckily, now, he had the money. 

The annual meeting took place two days before that 
fixed for the Committee of the Labour party. Wharton 
[ 272 ] 


was not present at it, and in spite of ample warning 
he gave way to certain lively movements of disgust 
and depression when at his club he first got hold of 
the evening papers containing the reports. His name, 
of course, figured amply in the denunciations heaped 
upon the directors of all dates ; the sums which he with 
others were supposed to have made out of the first 
dealings with the shares on the Stock Exchange were 
freely mentioned ; and the shareholders as a body had 
shown themselves most uncomfortably violent. He 
at once wrote off a letter to the papers disclaiming all 
responsibility for the worst irregularities which had 
occurred, and courting full inquiry a letter which, 
as usual, both convinced and affected himself. 

Then he went, restless and fuming, down to the 
House. Bennett passed him in the Lobby with an 
uneasy and averted eye. Whereupon Wharton seized 
upon him, carried him into the Library, and talked 
to him, till Bennett, who, in spite of his extraordinary 
shrewdness and judgement in certain departments, 
was a babe in matters of company finance, wore a 
somewhat cheered countenance. 

They came out into the Lobby together, Wharton 
holding his head very high. 

' I shall deal with the whole thing in my speech on 
Thursday!' he said aloud, as they parted. 

Bennett gave him a friendly nod and smile. 

There was in this little man, with his considerable 
brain and his poet's heart, something of the ' imperish- 
able child/ Like a wholesome child, he did not easily 
'think evil'; his temper towards all men even the 
owners of 'way-leaves' and mining royalties was 
[ 273 ] 


optimist. He had the most naive admiration for Whar- 
ton 's ability, and for the academic attainments he 
himself secretly pined for ; and to the young complex 
personality itself he had taken from the beginning an 
unaccountable liking. The bond between the two, 
though incongruous and recent, was real; Wharton 
was as glad of Bennett's farewell kindness as Bennett 
had been of the younger man's explanations. 

So that during that day and the next, Bennett went 
about contradicting, championing, explaining; while 
Wharton, laden with parliamentary business, vivid, 
unabashed, and resourceful, let it be known to all 
whom it concerned that in his solicitor's opinion he 
had a triumphant answer to all charges; and that 
meanwhile no one could wonder at the soreness of 
those poor devils of shareholders. 

The hours passed on. Wednesday was mainly spent 
by Wharton in a series of conferences and intrigues 
either at the House or at his club; when he drove 
home exhausted at night he believed that all was ar- 
ranged the train irrevocably laid, and his nomina- 
tion to the chairmanship of the party certain. 

Wilkins and six or seven others would probably 
prove irreconcileable ; but the vehemence and rancour 
shown by the great Nehemiah during the summer in 
the pursuit of his anti-Wharton campaign had to some 
extent defeated themselves. A personal grudge in the 
hands of a man of his type is not a formidable weapon. 
Wharton would have felt perfectly easy on the subject 
but for some odd bits of manner on Wilkins's part 
during the last forty-eight hours whenever, in fact, 
the two men had run across each other in the House 
[ 274 ] 


marked by a sort of new and insolent good-humour, 
that puzzled him. But there is a bravado of defeat. 
Yes ! he thought Wilkins was disposed of. 

From his present point of ease debts paid, banker 
propitiated, income assured it amazed him to look 
back on his condition of a fortnight before. Had the 
Prince of Darkness himself offered such a bargain it 
must have been accepted. After all his luck had held ! 
Once get through this odious company business as 
to which, with a pleasing consciousness of turning the 
tables, he had peremptorily instructed Mr. Pearson 
himself and the barque of his fortunes was assured. 

Then, with a quick turn of the mind, he threw the 
burden of affairs from him. His very hopefulness and 
satisfaction had softened his mood. There stole upon 
him the murmurs and voices of another world of 
thought a world well known to his versatility by 
report, though he had as a rule small inclination to 
dwell therein. But he was touched and shaken to- 
night by his own achievement. The heavenly powers 
had been unexpectedly kind to him, and he was half- 
moved to offer them something in return. 

'Do as you are done by' --that was an ethic 
he understood. And in moments of feeling he was 
as ready to apply it to great Zeus himself as to his 
friends or enemies in the House of Commons. He 
had done this doubtful thing but why should it 
ever be necessary for him to do another? Vague philo- 
sophic yearnings after virtue, moderation, patriotism, 
crossed his mind. The Pagan ideal sometimes smote 
and fired him, the Christian never. He could still 
read his Plato and his Cicero, whereas gulfs of un- 
[ 275 ] 


fathomable distaste rolled between him and the New 
Testament. Perhaps the author of all authors for 
whom he had most relish was Montaigne. He would 
have taken him down to-night had there been nothing 
more kindling to think of. 

Marcella! ah ! Marcella ! He gave himself to the 
thought of her with a new and delightful tenderness 
which had in it elements of compunction. After those 
disagreeable paragraphs in the evening papers, he had 
instantly written to her. ' Every public man ' - he 
had said to her, finding instinctively the note of dignity 
that would appeal to her 'is liable at some period 
of his career to charges of this sort. They are at once 
exaggerated and blackened, because he is a public man. 
To you I owe perfect frankness, and you shall have it. 
Meanwhile I do not ask I know that you will be 
just to me, and put the matter out of your thoughts 
till I can discuss it with you. Two days more till I see 
your face! The time is long !' 

To this there had been no answer. Her last letter 
indeed had rung sadly and coldly. No doubt Louis 
Craven had something to do with it. It would have 
alarmed him could he simply have found the time to 
think about it. Yet she was ready to see him on the 
llth; and his confidence in his own powers of manag- 
ing fate was tougher than ever. What pleasant lies 
he had told her at Lady Masterton's! Well! What 
passion ever yet but had its subterfuges? One more 
wrestle, and he would have tamed her to his wish, 
wild falcon that she was. Then pleasure and brave 
living ! And she also should have her way. She should 
breathe into him the language of those great illusion 
[ 276 ] 


he had found it of late so hard to feign with her; 
and they two would walk and rule a yielding world 
together. Action, passion, affairs life explored and 
exploited and at last 'que la mort me treuve plan- 
tant mes choulx mais nonchalant d'elle! et encore 
plus de mon jar din imparfait!' 

He declaimed the words of the great Frenchman 
with something of the same temper in which the de- 
vout man would have made an act of faith. Then, with 
a long breath and a curious emotion, he went to try 
and sleep himself into the new day. 


THE following afternoon about six o'clock Marcella 
came in from her second round. After a very busy 
week, work happened to be slack ; and she had been 
attending one or two cases in and near Brown's Build- 
ings rather because they were near than because they 
seriously wanted her. She looked to see whether there 
was any letter or telegram from the office which would 
have obliged her to go out again. Nothing was to be 
seen ; and she put down her bag and cloak, childishly 
glad of the extra hour of rest. 

She was, indeed, pale and worn. The moral struggle 
which had filled the past fortnight from end to end had 
deepened all the grooves and strained the forces of 
life ; and the path, though glimmering, was not wholly 

A letter lay unfinished in her drawer if she sent it 
that night, there would be little necessity or induce- 
ment forWharton to climb those stairs on the morrow. 
Yet, if he held her to it, she must see him. 

As the sunset and the dusk crept on, she still sat 
silent and alone, sunk in a depression which showed 
itself in every line of the drooping form. She was de- 
graded in her own eyes. The nature of the impulses 
which had led her to give Wharton the hold upon her 
she had given him had become plain to her. What lay 
between them, and the worst impulses that poison the 
lives of women, but differences of degree, of expres- 
[ 278 ] 


sion? After those wild hours of sensuous revolt, a 
kind of moral terror was upon her. 

What had worked in her? What was at the root of 
this vehemence of moral reaction, this haunting fear of 
losing for ever the best in life self-respect, the com- 
radeship of the good, communion with things noble 
and unstained which had conquered at last the 
mere woman, the weakness of vanity and of sex? She 
hardly knew. Only there was in her a sort of vague 
thankfulness for her daily work. It did not seem to be 
possible to see one's own life solely under the aspects 
of selfish desire while hands and mind were busy with 
the piteous realities of sickness and of death. From 
every act of service from every contact with the 
patience and simplicity of the poor something had 
spoken to her, that divine, ineffable something for ever 
'set in the world/ like beauty, like charm, for the win- 
ning of men to itself. 'Follow truth !' it said to her in 
faint, mysterious breathings 'the truth of your own 
heart. The sorrow to which it will lead you is the only 
joy that remains to you/ 

Suddenly she looked round her little room with a 
rush of tenderness. The windows were open to the 
evening and the shouts of children playing in the court- 
yard came floating up. A bowl of Mellor roses scented 
the air ; the tray for her simple meal stood ready, and 
beside it a volume of 'The Divine Comedy/ one of her 
mother's very rare gifts to her, in her motherless youth 
- for of late she had turned thirstily to poetry. There 
was a great peace and plainness about it all; and, 
besides, touches of beauty tokens of the soul. Her 
work spoke in it ; called to her ; promised comfort and 
[ 279 ] 


ennobling. She thought with yearning, too, of her par- 
ents; of the autumn holiday she was soon to spend 
with them. Her heart went out sorely to all the 
primal claims upon it. 

Nevertheless, clear as was the inner resolution, the 
immediate future filled her with dread. Her ignorance 
of herself her excitable folly had given Wharton 
rights which her conscience admitted. He would not 
let her go without a struggle, and she must face it. 

As to the incidents which had happened during the 
fortnight Louis Craven's return, and the sca*ndal of 
the 'People's Banking Company' they had troubled 
and distressed her; but it would not be true to say 
that they had had any part in shaping her slow deter- 
mination. Louis Craven was sore and bitter. She was 
very sorry for him; and his reports of the Damesley 
strikers made her miserable. But she took Wharton 's 
'leaders' in the Clarion for another equally competent 
opinion on the same subject ; and told herself that she 
was no judge. As for the Company scandal, she had 
instantly and proudly responded to the appeal of his 
letter, and put the matter out of her thoughts, till at 
least he should give his own account. So much at any 
rate she owed to the man who had stood by her 
through the Hurd trial. Marcella Boyce would not 
readily believe in his dishonour! She did not in fact 
believe it. In spite of later misgivings, the impression 
of his personality, as she had first conceived it, in the 
early days at Mellor, was still too strong. 

No rather she had constantly recollected 
throughout the day what was going on in Parliament. 
[ 280 ] 


These were for him testing and critical hours, and she 
felt a wistful sympathy. Let him only rise to his part 
- take up his great task. 

An imperious knocking on her thin outer door 
roused her. She went to open it and saw Anthony 
Craven the perspiration standing on his brow, his 
delicate cripple's face white and fierce. 

'I want to talk to you/ he said, without preface. 
'Have you seen the afternoon papers?' 

'No/ she said, in astonishment, 'I was just going to 
send for them. What is wrong?' 

He followed her into the sitting-room without speak- 
ing; and then he unfolded the Pall Mall he had in his 
hand and pointed to a large-print paragraph on the 
central page with a shaking hand. 

Marcella read : 

THE LABOUR MEMBERS. A committee of the Labour 
representatives in Parliament met this afternoon at 
2 o'clock for the purpose of electing a chairman, and 
appointing whips to the party, thus constituting a 
separate parliamentary group. Much interest was felt 
in the proceedings, which it was universally supposed 
would lead to the appointment of Mr. H. S. Wharton, 
the Member for West Brookshire, as chairman and 
leader of the Labour party. The excitement of the 
meeting and in the House may be imagined when 
after a short but very cordial and effective speech 
from Mr. Bennett, the Member for North Whinwick, 
in support of Mr. Wharton 's candidature Mr. Wil- 
kins, the Miners' Member for Derlingham, rose and 
[ 281 ] 


made a series of astounding charges against the 
personal honour of the Member for West Brookshire. 
Put briefly, they amount to this: that during the 
recent strike at Damesley the support of the Clarion 
newspaper, of which Mr. Wharton is owner and prac- 
tically editor, was bought by the employers in return 
for certain shares in the new Syndicate; that the 
money for these shares which is put as high as 
20,OOOL had already gone into Mr. Wharton 's pri- 
vate pocket ; and that the change of policy on the part 
of the Clarion, which led to the collapse of the strike, 
was thus entirely due to what the Labour Members 
can only regard under the circumstances as a bribe of 
a most disgraceful kind. The effect produced has been 
enormous. The debate is still proceeding, and reporters 
have been excluded. But I hope to send a full account 

Marcella dropped the paper from her hand. 

'What does it mean?' she said to her companion. 

'Precisely what it says/ replied Anthony, with a 
nervous impatience he could not repress. 'Now/ he 
added, as his lameness forced him to sit down, 'will 
you kindly allow me some conversation with you? 
It was you practically who introduced Louis to 
that man. You meant well to Louis, and Mr. Wharton 
has been your friend. We therefore feel that we owe 
you some explanation. For that paragraph' he 
pointed to the paper 'is, substantially Louis's 
doing, and mine/ 

'Yours?' she said, mechanically. 'But Louis has 
been going on working for the paper I persuaded 

[ 282 ] 


' I know. It was not we who actually discovered the 
thing. But we set a friend to work. Louis has had his 
suspicions all along. And at last by the merest 
chance we got the facts/ 

Then he told the story, staring at her the while with 
his sparkling eyes, his thin invalid's fingers fidgeting 
with his hat. If there was in truth any idea in his 
mind that the relations between his companion and 
Harry Wharton were more than those of friendship, 
it did not avail to make him spare her in the least. 
He was absorbed in vindictive feeling, which applied 
to her also. He might say for form's sake that she had 
meant well ; but in fact he regarded her at this moment 
as a sort of odious Canidia whose one function had been 
to lure Louis to misfortune. Cut off himself, by half 
a score of peculiarities, physical and other, from love, 
pleasure, and power, Anthony Craven's whole affec- 
tions and ambitions had for years centred in his 
brother. And now Louis was not only violently thrown 
out of employment, but compromised by the connex- 
ion with the Clarion; was, moreover, saddled with a 
wife and in debt. 

So that his explanation was given with all the edge 
he could put upon it. Let her stop him, if she pleased ! 
- but she did not stop him. 

The facts were these : 

Louis had, indeed, been persuaded by Marcella, for 
the sake of his wife and bread-and-butter, to go on 
working for the Clarion, as a reviewer. But his mind 
was all the time feverishly occupied with the apostasy 
of the paper and its causes. Remembering Whar ton's 
sayings and letters throughout the struggle, he grew 



less and less able to explain the incident by the rea- 
sons Wharton had himself supplied, and more and 
more convinced that there was some mystery be- 

He and Anthony talked the matter over perpetu- 
ally. One evening Anthony brought home from a 
meeting of the Venturists that George Denny, the son 
of one of the principal employers in the Damesley 
trade, whose name he had mentioned once before in 
Marcella's ears. Denny was by this time the candidate 
for a Labour constituency, an ardent Venturist, and 
the laughing-stock of his capitalist family, with whom, 
however, he was still on more or less affectionate terms. 
His father thought him an incorrigible fool, and his 
mother wailed over him to her friends. But they were 
still glad to see him whenever he would condescend to 
visit them ; and all friction on money matters was 
avoided by the fact that Denny had for long refused 
to take any pecuniary help from his father, and was 
nevertheless supporting himself tolerably by lecturing 
and literature. 

Denny was admitted into the brothers' debate, and 
had indeed puzzled himself a good deal over the 
matter already. He had taken a lively interest in the 
strike, and the articles in the Clarion which led to its 
collapse had seemed to him both inexplicable and 

After his talk with the Cravens, he went away, de- 
termined to dine at home on the earliest possible op- 
portunity. He announced himself accordingly in Hert- 
ford Street, was received with open arms, and then 
deliberately set himself, at dinner and afterwards, to 
[ 284 ] 


bait his father on social and political questions, which, 
as a rule, were avoided between them. 

Old Denny fell into the trap, lost his temper and 
self-control completely, and at a mention of Harry 
Wharton skilfully introduced at the precisely right 
moment as an authority on some matter connected 
with the current Labour programme, he threw himself 
back in his chair with an angry laugh. 

'Wharton? Wharton? You quote that fellow to 

'Why should n't I?' said the son, quietly. 

' Because, my good sir, he's a rogue, that's all ! 
a common rogue, from my point of view even 
still more from yours/ 

'I know that any vile tale you can believe about 
a Labour leader you do, father/ said George Denny, 
with dignity. 

Whereupon the older man thrust his hand into his 
coat-pocket, and drawing out a small leather case, in 
which he was apt to carry important papers about 
with him, extracted from it a list containing names 
and figures, and held it with a somewhat tremulous 
hand under his son's eyes. 

' Read it, sir ! and hold your tongue ! Last week my 
friends and I bought that man and his precious 
paper for a trifle of 20,000. or thereabouts. It paid 
us to do it, and we did it. I dare say you will think 
the proceeding questionable. In my eyes it was per- 
fectly legitimate, a piece of bonne guerre. The man 
was ruining a whole industry. Some of us had taken 
his measure, had found out too by good luck ! 
that he was in sore straits for money mortgages on 
[ 285 ] 


the paper, gambling debts, and a host of other things 
-discovered a shrewd man to play him, and made 
our bid ! He rose to it like a gudgeon gave us no 
trouble whatever. I need not say, of course' he 
added, looking up at his son 'that I have shown 
you that paper in the very strictest confidence. But it 
seemed to me it was my duty as a father to warn you 
of the nature of some of your associates ! ' 

'I understand/ said George Denny, as, after a care- 
ful study of the paper which contained, for the 
help of the writer's memory, a list of the sums paid 
and founders' shares allotted to the various 'pro- 
moters' of the new Syndicate he restored it to its 
owner. 'Well, I, father, have this to say in return. 
I came here to-night in the hope of getting from you 
this very information, and in the public interest I 
hold myself not only free but bound to make public 
use of it, at the earliest possible opportunity!' 

The family scene may be imagined. But both 
threats and blandishments were entirely lost upon the 
son. There was in him an idealist obstinacy which 
listened to nothing but the cry of a cause, and he de- 
clared that nothing would or should prevent him from 
carrying the story of the bribe direct to Nehemiah 
Wilkins, Wharton's chief rival in the House, and so 
saving the country and the Labour party from the 
disaster and disgrace of Wharton's leadership. There 
was no time to lose, the party meeting in the House 
was only two days off. 

At the end of a long struggle, which exhausted 
everybody concerned, and was carried on to a late 
hour of the night, Denny pdre, influenced by a desire 
[ 286 ] 


to avoid worse things conscious, too, of the abund- 
ant evidence he possessed of Wharton 's acceptance 
and private use of the money and, probably, when 
it came to the point, not unwilling under compul- 
sion ! to tumble such a hero from his pedestal, 
actually wrote, under his son's advice, a letter to 
Wilkins. It was couched in the most cautious lan- 
guage, and professed to be written in the interests of 
Wharton himself, to put an end 'to certain ugly and 
unfounded rumours that have been brought to my 
knowledge/ The negotiation itself was described in 
the driest business terms. 'Mr. Wharton, upon cause 
shown, consented to take part in the founding of the 
Syndicate, and in return for his assistance, was allotted 
ten founders' shares in the new company. The trans- 
action differed in nothing from those of ordinary busi- 
ness' --a last sentence slyly added by the Socialist 
son, and innocently accepted by one of the shrewdest 
of men. 

After which Master George Denny scarcely slept, 
and by nine o'clock next morning was in a hansom on 
his way to Wilkins's lodgings in Westminster. The 
glee of that black-bearded patriot hardly needs de- 
scription. He flung himself on the letter with a delight 
and relief so exuberant that George Denny went off to 
another more phlegmatic member of the anti-Wharton 
'cave/ with entreaties that an eye should be kept on 
the Member for Derlingham, lest he should do or dis- 
close anything before the dramatic moment. 

Then he himself spent the next forty-eight hours in 
ingenious efforts to put together certain additional 
information as to the current value of founders' shares 
[ 287 ] 


in the new company, the nature and amount of Whar- 
ton's debts, and so on. Thanks to his father's hints 
he was able in the end to discover quite enough to 
furnish forth a supplementary statement. So that, 
when the 10th arrived, the day rose upon a group of 
men breathlessly awaiting a play within a play 
with all their parts rehearsed, and the prompter ready. 

Such, in substance, was Anthony's story. So carried 
away was he by the excitement and triumph of it 
that he soon ceased to notice what its effect might be 
upon his pale and quick-breathing companion. 

'And now what has happened?' she asked him 
abruptly, when at last he paused. 

'Why, you saw!' he said, in astonishment, pointing 
to the evening paper 'at least the beginning of it. 
Louis is at the House now. I expect him every mo- 
ment. He said he would follow me here/ 

Marcella pressed her hands upon her eyes a moment 
as though in pain. Anthony looked at her with a 
tardy prick of remorse. 

'I hear Louis's knock !' he said, springing up. 'May 
I let him in?' And, without waiting for reply, he 
hobbled as fast as his crutch would carry him to the 
outer door. Louis came in. Marcella rose mechan- 
ically. He paused on the threshold, his short sight 
trying to make her out in the dusk. Then his face 
softened and quivered. He walked forward quickly. 

'I know you have something to forgive us,' he said, 
'and that this will distress you. But we could not 
give you warning. Everything was so rapid, and the 
public interests involved so crushing.' 
[ 288 ] 


He was flushed with vengeance and victory, but as 
he approached her his look was deprecating almost 
timid. Only the night before, Anthony for the first 
time had suggested to him an idea about her. He did 
not believe it had had no time in truth to think 
of it in the rush of events. But now he saw her, the 
doubt pulled at his heart. Had he indeed stabbed the 
hand that had tried to help him? 

Anthony touched him impatiently on the arm. 
'What has happened, Louis? I have shown Miss 
Boyce the first news/ 

'It is all over/ said Louis, briefly. 'The meeting 
was breaking up as I came away. It had lasted nearly 
five hours. There was a fierce fight, of course, between 
Wharton and Wilkins. Then Bennett withdrew his 
resolution, refused to be nominated himself nearly 
broke down, in fact, they say; he had always been 
attached to Wharton, and had set his heart upon 
making him leader and finally, after a long wrangle, 
Molloy was appointed chairman of the party/ 

'Good!' cried Anthony, not able to suppress the 
note of exultation. 

Louis did not speak. He looked at Marcella. 

'Did he defend himself?' she asked, in a low, sharp 

Louis shrugged his shoulders. 

'Oh yes. He spoke but it did him no good. 
Everybody agreed that the speech was curiously in- 
effective. One would have expected him to do it 
better. But he seemed to be knocked over. He said, 
of course, that he had satisfied himself, and 'given 
proof in the paper, that the strike could not be main- 
[ 289 ] 


tained, and that being so he was free to join any 
syndicate he pleased. But he spoke amid dead silence, 
and there was a general groan when he sat down. Oh, 
it was not this business only! Wilkins made great 
play in part of his speech with the Company scandal 
too. It is a complete smash all round/ 

'Which he will never get over?' said Marcella, 

'Not with our men. What he may do elsewhere is 
another matter. Anthony has told you how it came out ? ' 

She made a sign of assent. She was sitting erect 
and cold, her hands round her knees. 

' I did not mean to keep anything from you, ' he said 
in a low voice, bending to her. 'I know you ad- 
mired him that he had given you cause. But my 
mind has been on fire ever since I came back from 
those Damesley scenes!' 

She offered no reply. Silence fell upon all three for 
a minute or two ; and in the twilight each could hardly 
distinguish the others. Every now and then the pas- 
sionate tears rose in Marcella 's eyes; her heart con- 
tracted. That very night when he spoke to her, when 
he used all those big words to her about his future, 
those great ends for which he had claimed her woman's 
help he had these things in his mind. 

'I think/ said Louis Craven, presently, touching her 
gently on the arm he had tried once in vain to 
attract her attention 'I think I hear some one 
asking for you outside on the landing Mrs. Kurd 
seems to be bringing them in/ 

As he spoke, Anthony suddenly sprang to his feet, 
and the outer door opened. 

[ 290 ] 


'Louis!' cried Anthony, 'it is he!' 

'Are yez at home, Miss?' said Minta Hurd, putting 
in her head; 'I can hardly see, it's so dark. Here's 
a gentleman wants to see you.' 

As she spoke, Wharton passed her, and stood 
arrested by the sight of the three figures. At the 
same moment Mrs. Hurd lit the gas in the little pass- 
age. The light streamed upon his face, and showed 
him the identity of the two men standing beside 

Never did Marcella forget that apparition the 
young grace and power of the figure the indefinable 
note of wreck, of catastrophe the Lucifer brightness 
of the eyes in the set face. She moved forward. 
Anthony stopped her. 

' Good -night, Miss Boyce ! ' 

She shook hands unconsciously with him and with 
Louis. The two Cravens turned to the door. Wharton 
advanced into the room, and let them pass. 

'You have been in a hurry to tell your story!' he 
said, as Louis walked by him. 

Contemptuous hate breathed from every feature, 
but he was perfectly self -controlled. 

'Yes' said Craven, calmly; 'now it is your 

The door was no sooner shut than Wharton strode 
forward and caught her hand. 

'They have told you everything? Ah! - 

His eye fell upon the evening paper. Letting her go, 
he felt for a chair and dropped into it. Throwing him- 
self back, his hands behind his head, he drew a long 
breath and his eyes closed. For the first time in his life 
[ 291 ] 


or hers she saw him weak and spent like other men. 
Even his nerve had been worn down by the excitement 
of these five fighting hours. The eyes were lined and 
hollow the brow contracted ; the young roundness 
of the cheek was lost in the general pallor and patchi- 
ness of the skin ; the lower part of the face seemed to 
have sharpened and lengthened and over the whole 
had passed a breath of something ageing and wither- 
ing, the traces of which sent a shiver through Mar- 
cella. She sat down near him, still in her nurse's 
cloak, one trembling hand upon her lap. 

'Will you tell me what made you do this?' she asked, 
not being able to think of anything else to say. 

He opened his eyes with a start. 

In that instant's quiet the scene he had just lived 
through had been rushing before him again the 
long table in the panelled committee-room, the keen, 
angry faces gathered about it. Bennett, in his blue tie 
and shabby black coat, the clear, moist eyes vexed and 
miserable Molloy, small and wiry, business-like in 
the midst of confusion, cool in the midst of tumult 
and Wilkins, a black, hectoring leviathan, thundering 
on the table as he flung his broad Yorkshire across it, 
or mouthing out Denny's letter in the midst of the 
sudden electrical silence of some thirty amazed and 
incredulous hearers. 

'Spies, yo call us?' with a finger like a dart, threat- 
ening the enemy 'aye; an yo're aboot reet! I and 
my friends we have been trackin and spyin for 
weeks past. We knew those men, those starvin women 
and bairns, were bein sold, but we could n't prove it. 
Now we've come at the how and the why of it! And 
[ 292 ] 


we '11 make it harder for men like you to sell 'em again! 
Yo call it infamy? well, we call it detection/ 

Then rattling on the inner ear came the phrases of 
the attack which followed on the director of 'The 
People's Banking Association/ the injured innocent 
of as mean a job, as unsavoury a bit of vulturous 
finance, as had cropped into publicity for many a year 
and finally the last dramatic cry : 

'But it's noa matter, yo say! Mester Wharton has 
nobbut played his party and the workin-man a dirty 
trick or two an yo mun have a gentleman! Noa - 
the workin-man is n't fit himself to speak wi his own 
enemies i' th' gate yo mun have a gentleman! an 
Mester Wharton, he says he'll tak the post, an dea his 
best for yo an, remember, yo mun have a gentleman! 
Soa now Yes ! or No ! wull yo? or worn't yo ?' 

And at that, the precipitation of the great unwieldy 
form half across the table towards Wharton 's seat 
the roar of the speaker's immediate supporters thrown 
up against the dead silence of the rest ! 

As to his own speech he thought of it with a sore- 
ness, a disgust which penetrated to bones and marrow. 
He had been too desperately taken by surprise had 
lost his nerve missed the right tone throughout. 
Cool defiance, free self -justification, might have carried 
him through. Instead of which faugh ! 

All this was the phantom-show of a few seconds' 
thought. He roused himself from a miserable reaction 
of mind and body to attend to Marcella's question. 

'Why did I do it?' he repeated; 'why ' 

He broke off, pressing both his hands upon his brow. 
Then he suddenly sat up and pulled himself together. 
[ 293 ] 


'Is that tea?' he said, touching the tray. 'Will you 
give me some?' 

Marcella went into the back kitchen and called 
Minta. While the boiling water was brought and the 
tea was made, Wharton sat forward with his face on 
his hands and saw nothing. Marcella whispered a word 
in Minta's ear as she came in. The woman paused, 
looked at Wharton, whom she had not recognised 
before in the dark grew pale and Marcella saw 
her hands shaking as she set the tray in order. Whar- 
ton knew nothing and thought nothing of Kurd's 
widow, but to Marcella the juxtaposition of the two 
figures brought a wave of complex emotion. 

Wharton forced himself to eat and drink, hardly 
speaking the while. Then, when the tremor of sheer 
exhaustion had to some extent abated, he suddenly 
realised who this was that was sitting opposite to him 
ministering to him. 

She felt his hand his quick, powerful hand on 

'To you I owe the whole truth let me tell it!' 

She drew herself away instinctively but so softly 
that he did not realise it. He threw himself back once 
more in the chair beside her one knee over the 
other, the curly head so much younger to-night than 
the face beneath it supported on his arms, his eyes 
closed again for rest and plunged into the story of 
the Clarion. 

It was admirably told. He had probably so re- 
hearsed it to himself several times already. He de- 
scribed his action as the result of a double influence 
working upon him the influence of his own debts 
[ 294 ] 


and necessities, and the influence of his growing con- 
viction that the maintenance of the strike had become 
a blunder, even a misfortune for the people themselves. 

'Then just as I was at my wit's end, conscious 
besides that the paper was on a wrong line, and must 
somehow be got out of it came the overtures from 
the Syndicate. I knew perfectly well I ought to have 
refused them of course my whole career was risked 
by listening to them. But at the same time they gave 
me assurances that the work-people would ultimately 
gain they proved to me that I was helping to 
extinguish the trade. As to the money when a great 
company has to be launched, the people who help it 
into being get paid for it it is invariable it 
happens every day. I like the system no more than 
you may do or Wilkins. But consider. I was in 
such straits that bankruptcy lay between me and my 
political future. Moreover I had lost nerve, sleep, 
balance. I was scarcely master of myself when Pearson 
first broached the matter to me - 

'Pearson!' cried Marcella, involuntarily. She re- 
called the figure of the solicitor; had heard his name 
from Frank Leven. She remembered Wharton's im- 
patient words 'There is a tiresome man wants to 
speak to me on business - 

It was then! that evening! Something sickened 

Wharton raised himself in his chair and looked at 
her attentively with his young, haggard eyes. In the 
faint lamplight she was a pale vision of the purest and 
noblest beauty. But the lofty sadness of her face 
filled him with a kind of terror. Desire impotent 
[ 295 ] 


pain violent resolve, swept across him. He had 
come to her, straight from the scene of his ruin, as 
to the last bulwark left him against a world bent 
on his destruction, and bare henceforward of all de- 

'Well, what have you to say to me?' he said, sud- 
denly, in a low, changed voice 'as I speak as I 
look at you I see in your face that you distrust - 
that you have judged me ; those two men, I suppose, 
have done their work! Yet from you you of all 
people I might look not only for justice but 
I will dare say it for kindness!' 

She trembled. She understood that he appealed to 
the days at Mellor, and her lips quivered. 

'No/ she exclaimed, almost timidly 'I try to 
think the best. I see the pressure was great/ 

'And consider, please/ he said, proudly, 'what the 
reasons were for that pressure/ 

She looked at him interrogatively a sudden soft- 
ness in her eyes. If at that moment he had confessed 
himself fully, if he had thrown himself upon her in 
the frank truth of his mixed character and he could 
have done it, with a Rousseau-like completeness it 
is difficult to say what the result of this scene might 
have been. In the midst of shock and repulsion, she 
was filled with pity; and there were moments when 
she was more drawn to his defeat and undoing than 
she had ever been to his success. 

Yet how question him? To do so would be to as- 
sume a right, which in turn would imply his rights. 
She thought of that mention of 'gambling debts/ 
then of his luxurious habits, and extravagant friends. 
[ 296 ] 


But she was silent. Only, as she sat there opposite to 
him, one slim hand propping the brow, her look invited 

He thought he saw his advantage. 

'You must remember/ he said, with the same self- 
assertive bearing, 'that I have never been a rich man, 
that my mother spent my father's savings on a score 
of public objects, that she and I started a number of 
experiments on the estate, that my expenses as a 
Member of Parliament are very large, and that I spent 
thousands on building up the Clarion. I have been 
ruined by the Clarion, by the cause the Clarion sup- 
ported. I got no help from my party where was it 
to come from? They are all poor men. I had to do 
everything myself, and the struggle has been more 
than flesh and blood could bear! This year, often, I 
have not known how to move, to breathe, for anxieties 
of every sort. Then came the crisis my work, my 
usefulness, my career, all threatened. The men who 
hated me saw their opportunity. I was a fool and gave 
it them. And my enemies have used it to the bitter 

Tone and gesture were equally insistent and strong. 
What he was saying to himself was that, with a woman 
of Marcella's type, one must 'bear it out/ This mo- 
ment of wreck was also with him the first moment 
of all-absorbing and desperate desire. To win her 
to wrest her from the Cravens' influence that had 
been the cry in his mind throughout his dazed drive 
from the House of Commons. Her hand in his her 
strength, her beauty, the romantic reputation that 
had begun to attach to her, at his command and he 
[ 297 ] 


would have taken the first step to recovery, he would 
see his way to right himself. 

Ah ! but he had missed his chance ! Somehow, every 
word he had been saying rang false to her. She could 
have thrown herself as a saving angel on the side of 
weakness and disaster which had spoken its proper 
language, and with a reckless and confiding truth had 
appealed to the largeness of a woman's heart. But 
this patriot ruined so nobly for such disinterested 
purposes left her cold ! She began to think even 
hating herself of the thousands he was supposed 
to have made in the gambling over that wretched Com- 
pany no doubt for the 'Cause' too ! , 

But before she could say a word he was kneeling 
beside her. 

'Marcella! give me my answer! I am in trouble 
and defeat be a woman, and come to me !' 

He had her hands. She tried to recover them. 

'No!' she said, with passionate energy, 'that is im- 
possible. I had written to you before you came, be- 
fore I had heard a word of this. Please, please let 
me go!' 

'Not till you explain!' --he said, still holding her, 
and roused to a white heat of emotion 'why is it 
impossible? You said to me once, with all your heart, 
that you thanked me, that I had taught you, helped 
you. You cannot ignore the bond between us! And 
you are free. I have a right to say to you you 
thirst to save, to do good come and save a man 
that cries to you ! he confesses to you, freely enough, 
that he has made a hideous mistake help him to 
redeem it!' 

[ 298 ] 


She rose suddenly with all her strength, freeing her- 
self from him, so that he rose too, and stood glowering 
and pale. 

'When I said that to you/ she cried, 'I was betray- 
ing' her voice failed her an instant 'we were 
both false to the obligation that should have held 
us restrained us. No ! no! I will never be your wife ! 
We should hurt each other poison each other!' 

Her eyes shone with wild tears. As he stood there 
before her she was seized with a piteous sense of con- 
trast of the irreparable of what might have been. 

'What do you mean?' he asked her, roughly. 

She was silent. 

His passion rose. 

'Do you remember/ he said, approaching her again, 
'that you have given me cause to hope? It is those 
two fanatics that have changed you possessed your 

She looked at him with a pale dignity. 

'My letters must have warned you/ she said, simply. 
' If you had come to-morrow in prosperity you 
would have got the same answer, at once. To-day 
now I have had weak moments, because because 
I did not know how to add pain to pain. But they are 
gone I see my way ! I do not love you that is the 
simple, the whole truth I could not follow you!' 

He stared at her an instant in a bitter silence. 

'I have been warned' he said, slowly, but in 
truth losing control of himself 'not only by you 
and I suppose I understand! You repent last year. 
Your own letter said as much. You mean to recover 
the ground the place you lost. Ah, well ! most 
[ 299 ] 


natural ! most fitting ! When the time comes and 
my bones are less sore I suppose I shall have my 
second congratulations ready ! Meanwhile ' 

She gave a low cry and burst suddenly into a passion 
of weeping, turning her face from him. But when in 
pale sudden shame he tried to excuse himself to 
appease her she moved away, with a gesture that 
overawed him. 

'You have not confessed yourself she said, and 
his look wavered under the significance of hers- 
'but you drive me to it. Yes, / repent!' - - her breast 
heaved, she caught her breath. 'I have been trying to 
cheat myself these last few weeks to run away from 
grief and the other night when you asked me I 
would have given all I have and am to feel like any 
happy girl, who says" Yes ' ' to her lover. I tried to feel 
so. But even then, though I was miserable and reckless, 
I knew in my heart it was impossible ! If you sup- 
pose if you like to suppose that I I have hopes 
or plans as mean as they would be silly you 
must of course. But I have given no one any right 
to think so or say so. Mr. Wharton - 

Gathering all her self-control, she put out her white 
hand to him. 'Please please say good-bye to me. 
It has been hideous vanity and mistake and 
wretchedness our knowing each other from the 
beginning. I am grateful for all you did, I shall al- 
ways be grateful. I hope oh ! I hope that that 
you will find a way through this trouble. I don't want 
to make it worse by a word. If I could do anything ! 
But I can't. You must please go. It is late. I wish 
to call my friend, Mrs. Hurd.' 
[ 300 ] 


Their eyes met hers full of a certain stern yet 
quivering power, his strained and bloodshot, in his 
lined young face. 

Then, with a violent gesture as though he swept 
her out of his path he caught up his hat, went to 
the door, and was gone. 

She fell on her chair almost fainting, and sat there 
for long in the summer dark, covering her face. But 
it was not his voice that haunted her ears. 

' You have done me wrong I pray God you may not 
do yourself a greater wrong in the future!' 

Again and again, amid the whirl of memory, she 
pressed the sad remembered words upon the inward 
wound and fever tasting, cherishing the smart of 
them. And as her trance of exhaustion and despair 
gradually left her, it was as though she crept close to 
some dim beloved form in whom her heart knew hence- 
forward the secret and sole companion of its inmost 


'You and I 

Why care by what meanders we are here 
I' the centre of the labyrinth? Men have died 
Trying to find this place which we have found.' 


AH! how purely, cleanly beautiful was the autumn 
sunrise ! After her long hardening to the stale noisome- 
ness of London streets, the taint of London air, Mar- 
cella hung out of her window at Mellor in a thirsty 
delight, drinking in the scent of dew and earth and 
trees, watching the ways of the birds, pouring forth 
a soul of yearning and of memory into the pearly 
silence of the morning. 

High up on the distant hill to the left, beyond the 
avenue, the pale apricots and golds of the newly-shorn 
stubbles caught the mounting light. The beeches of 
the avenue were turning fast, and the chestnuts gird- 
ling the church on her right hand were already thin 
enough to let the tower show through. That was the 
bell the old bell given to the church by Hampden's 
friend, John Boyce striking half -past five; and close 
upon it came the call of a pheasant in the avenue. 
There he was, fine fellow, with his silly, mincing run, 
redeemed all at once by the sudden whirr of towering 

To-day Mary Harden and the Rector would be at 
work in the church, and to-morrow was to be the 
Harvest Festival. Was it two years? or in an hour 
or two would she be going with her basket from the 
Cedar Garden, to find that figure in the brown shoot- 
ing-coat standing with the Hardens on the altar-steps? 

Alas ! alas ! her head dropped on her hands as 
[ 305 ] 


she knelt by the open window. How changed were all 
the aspects of the world ! Three weeks before, the bell 
in that little church had tolled for one who, in the best 
way and temper of his own generation, had been God's 
servant and man's friend who had been Marcella's 
friend and had even, in his last days, on a word 
from Edward Hallin, sent her an old man's kindly 

'Tell her/ Lord Maxwell had written with his own 
hand to Hallin, 'she has taken up a noble work, and 
will make, I pray God, a noble woman. She had, I 
think, a kindly liking for an old man, and she will not 
disdain his blessing/ 

He had died at Geneva, Aldous and Miss Raeburn 
with him. For instead of coming home in August, he 
had grown suddenly worse, and Aldous had gone out 
to him. They had brought him to the Court for burial, 
and the new Lord Maxwell, leaving his aunt at the 
Court, had almost immediately returned to town, - 
because of Edward Hallin 's state of health. 

Marcella had seen much of Hallin since he and his 
sister had come back to London in the middle of 
August. Hallin 's apparent improvement had faded 
within a week or two of his return to his rooms; Al- 
dous was at Geneva; Miss Hallin was in a panic of 
alarm; and Marcella found herself both nurse and 
friend. Day after day she would go in after her nurs- 
ing rounds, share their evening meal, and either write 
for Hallin, or help the sister by the slight extra 
weight of her professional voice to keep him from 
writing and thinking. 

He would not himself admit that he was ill at all, 
[ 306 ] 


and his whole, energies at the time were devoted to 
the preparation of a series of three addresses on the 
subject of Land Reform, which were to be delivered 
in October to the delegates of a large number of work- 
ing-men's clubs from all parts of London. So strong 
was Hallin 's position among working-men reform- 
ers, and so beloved had been his personality, that as 
soon as his position towards the new land nationalis- 
ing movement, now gathering formidable strength 
among the London working-men, had come to be 
widely understood, a combined challenge had been 
sent him by some half-dozen of the leading Socialist 
and Radical clubs, asking him to give three weekly 
addresses in October to a congress of London delegates, 
t?me to be allowed after the lecture for questions and 

Hallin had accepted the invitation with eagerness, 
and was throwing an intensity of labour into the writ- 
ing of his three lectures which often seemed to his 
poor sister to be not only utterly beyond his physical 
strength, but to carry with it a note as of a last effort, 
a farewell message, such as her devoted affection could 
ill endure. For all the time he was struggling with 
cardiac weakness and brain irritability which would 
have overwhelmed any one less accustomed to make 
his account with illness, or to balance against feeble- 
ness of body a marvellous discipline of soul. 

Lord Maxwell was still alive, and Hallin, in the midst 
of his work, was looking anxiously for the daily re- 
ports from Aldous, living in his friend's life almost as 
much as in his own handing on the reports, too, 
day by day, to Marcella, with a manner which had 
[ 307 ] 


somehow slipped into expressing a new and sure con- 
fidence in her sympathy when she one evening 
found Minta Hurd watching for her at the door with 
a telegram from her mother: 'Your father suddenly 
worse. Please come at once.' She arrived at Mellor 
late that same night. 

On the same day Lord Maxwell died. Less than 
a week later he was buried in the little Gairsley church. 
Mr. Boyce was then alarmingly ill, and Marcella sat 
in his darkened room or in her own all day, thinking 
from time to time of what was passing three miles 
away of the great house in its mourning of the 
figures round the grave. Hallin, of course, would be 
there. It was a dripping September day, and she 
passed easily from moments of passionate yearning 
and clairvoyance to worry herself about the damp 
and the fatigue that Hallin must be facing. 

Since then she had heard occasionally from Miss 
Hallin. Everything was much as it had been, appar- 
ently. Edward was still hard at work, still ill, still 
serene. 'Aldous' Miss Hallin could not yet recon- 
cile herself to the new name was alone in the Curzon 
Street house, much occupied and harassed apparently 
by the legal business of the succession, by the election 
presently to be held in his own constituency, and by 
the winding-up of his work at the Home Office. He 
was to resign his under-secretaryship ; but with the 
new session and a certain rearrangement of offices it 
was probable that he would be brought back into the 
Ministry. Meanwhile he was constantly with them; 
and she thought that his interest in Edward's work 
and anxiety about his health were perhaps both good 
[ 308 ] 


for him as helping to throw off something of his own 
grief and depression. 

Whereby it will be noticed that Miss Hallin, like 
her brother, had by now come to speak intimately 
and freely to Marcella of her old lover and their friend. 

Now for some days, however, she had received no 
letter from either brother or sister, and she was par- 
ticularly anxious to hear. For this was the fourth of 
October, and on the second he was to have delivered 
the first of his addresses. How had the frail prophet 
sped? She had her fears. For her weekly 'evenings' 
in Brown's Buildings had shown her a good deal of 
the passionate strength of feeling developed during 
the past year in connexion with this particular pro- 
paganda. She doubted whether the London working- 
man at the present moment was likely to give even 
Hallin a fair hearing on the point. However, Louis 
Craven was to be there. And he had promised to write 
even if Susie Hallin could find no time. Some report 
ought to reach Mellor by the evening. 

Poor Cravens ! The young wife, who was expecting 
a baby, had behaved with great spirit through the 
Clarion trouble; and, selling their bits of furniture 
to pay their debts, they had gone to lodge near An- 
thony. Louis had got some odds and ends of designing 
and artistic work to do through his brother's influence ; 
and was writing where he could, here and there. Mar- 
cella had introduced them to the Hallins, and Susie 
Hallin was taking a motherly interest in the coming 
child. Anthony, in his gloomy way, was doing all he 
could for them. But the struggle was likely to be a 
hard one, and Marcella had recognised of late that in 
[ 309 ] 


Louis as in Anthony there were dangerous possibilities 
of melancholy and eccentricity. Her heart was often 
sore over their trouble and her own impotence. 

Meantime for some wounds, at any rate, time had 
brought swift cautery ! Not three days after her final 
interview with Wharton, while the catastrophe in the 
Labour party was still in every one's mouth, and the 
air was full of bitter speeches and recriminations, 
Hallin one evening laid down his newspaper with a 
sudden startled gesture, and then pushed it over to 
Marcella. There, in the columns devoted to personal 
news of various sorts, appeared the announcement : 

'A marriage has been arranged between Mr. H. S. 
Wharton, M.P. for West Brookshire, and Lady Selina 
Farrell, only surviving daughter of Lord Alresford. 
The ceremony will probably take place somewhere 
about Easter next. Meanwhile Mr. Wharton, whose 
health has suffered of late from his exertions in and 
out of the House, has been ordered to the East for 
rest by his medical advisers. He and his friend Sir 
William Ffolliot start for French Cochin China in a 
few days. Their object is to explore the famous 
ruined temples of Angkor in Cambodia, and if the 
season is favorable they may attempt to ascend the 
Mekong. Mr. Wharton is paired for the remainder of 
the session.' 

'Did you know anything of this?' said Hallin, with 
that careful carelessness in which people dress a dubi- 
ous question. 

'Nothing/ she said, quietly. 

Then an impulse not to be stood against, springing 
from very mingled depths of feeling, drove her on. 
[ 310 ] 


She, too, put down the paper, and laying her finger- 
tips together on her knee she said with an odd slight 
laugh : 

'But I was the last person to know. About a fort- 
night ago Mr. Wharton proposed to me/ 

Hallin sprang from his chair, almost with a shout. 
'And you refused him?' 

She nodded, and then was angrily aware that, totally 
against her will or consent, and for the most foolish 
and remote reasons, those two eyes of hers had grown 

Hallin went straight over to her. 

'Do you mind letting me shake hands with you?' 
he said, half -ashamed of his outburst, a dancing light 
of pleasure transforming the thin face. 'There I am 
an idiot ! We won't say a word more except about 
Lady Selina. Have you seen her?' 

'Three or four times.' 

'What is she like?' 

Marcella hesitated. 

'Is she fat and forty?' said Hallin, fervently 
'will she beat him?' 

'Not at all. She is very thin thirty-five, elegant, 
terribly of her own opinion and makes a great 
parade of "papa." 3 

She looked round at him, unsteadily, but gaily. 

'Oh! I see,' said Hallin, with disappointment, 'she 
will only take care he doesn't beat her which I 
gather from your manner doesn't matter. And her 

'Lord Alresford was left out of the Ministry,' said 
Marcella, slyly. 'He and Lady Selina thought it a pity/ 
[ 311 1 


'Alresford Alresford? Why, of course! He was 
Lord Privy Seal in their last Cabinet a narrow- 
minded old stick ! did a heap of mischief in the 
Lords. Well! ' Hallin pondered a moment ' Whar- 
ton will go over ! ' 

Marcella was silent. The tremor of that wrestler's 
hour had not yet passed away. The girl could find no 
words in which to discuss Wharton himself, this last 
amazing act, or its future. 

As for Hallin, he sat lost in pleasant dreams of a 
whitewashed Wharton, comfortably settled at last 
below the gangway on the Conservative side, using all 
the old catchwords in slightly different connexions, 
and living gaily on his Lady Selina. Fragments from 
the talk of Nehemiah Nehemiah the happy and 
truculent, that new 'scourge of God' upon the para- 
sites of Labour of poor Bennett, of Molloy, and of 
various others who had found time to drop in upon 
him since the Labour smash, kept whirling in his 
mind. The same prediction he had just made to Mar- 
cella was to be discerned in several of them. He 
vowed to himself that he would write to Raeburn that 
night, congratulate him and the party on the possi- 
bility of so eminent a recruit and hint another item 
of news by the way. She had trusted her confidence 
to him without any pledge an act for which he paid 
her well thenceforward, in the coin of a friendship far 
more intimate, expansive, and delightful than any- 
thing his sincerity had as yet allowed him to show her. 

But these London incidents and memories, near as 
they were in time, looked many of them strangely 
remote to Marcella in this morning silence. When 
[ 312 ] 


she drew back from the window, after darkening the 
now sun-flooded room in a very thorough businesslike 
way, in order that she might have four or five hours' 
sleep, there was something symbolic in the act. She 
gave back her mind, her self, to the cares, the anxieties, 
the remorses of the past three weeks. During the night 
she had been sitting up with her father that her mother 
might rest. Now, as she lay down, she thought with 
the sore tension which had lately become habitual to 
her, of her father's state, her mother's strange person- 
ality, her own shortcomings. 

By the middle of the morning she was downstairs 
again, vigorous and fresh as ever. Mrs. Boyce's maid 
was for the moment in charge of the patient, who was 
doing well. Mrs. Boyce was writing some household 
notes in the drawing-room. Marcella went in search 
of her. 

The bare room, just as it ever was, with its faded 
antique charm, looked bright and tempting in the 
sun. But the cheerfulness of it did but sharpen the 
impression of that thin form writing in the window. 
Mrs. Boyce looked years older. The figure had shrunk 
and flattened into that of an old woman; the hair, 
which two years before had been still young and 
abundant, was now easily concealed under the close 
white cap she had adopted very soon after her daughter 
had left Mellor. The dress was still exquisitely neat ; 
but plainer and coarser. Only the beautiful hands and 
the delicate stateliness of carriage remained sole 
relics of a loveliness which had cost its owner few 
pangs to part with. 

[ 313 ] 


Marcella hovered near her a little behind her 
looking at her from time to time with a yearning com- 
punction which Mrs. Boyce seemed to be aware of, 
and to avoid. 

'Mamma, can't I do those letters for you? I am 
quite fresh/ 

'No, thank you. They are just done/ 

When they were all finished and stamped, Mrs. 
Boyce made some careful entries in a very methodical 
account-book, and then got up, locking the drawers 
of her little writing-table behind her. 

'We can keep the London nurse another week I 
think/ she said. 

'There is no need/ said Marcella, quickly. 'Emma 
and I could divide the nights now and spare you alto- 
gether. You see I can sleep at any time/ 

'Your father seems to prefer Nurse Wenlock/ said 
Mrs. Boyce. 

Marcella took the little blow in silence. No doubt 
it was her due. During the past two years she had 
spent two separate months at Mellor; she had gone 
away in opposition to her father's wish ; and had found 
herself on her return more of a stranger to her parents 
than ever. Mr. Boyce 's illness, involving a steady 
extension of paralytic weakness, with occasional acute 
fits of pain and danger, had made steady though very 
gradual progress all the time. But it was not till some 
days after her return home that Marcella had realised 
a tenth part of what her mother had undergone since 
the disastrous spring of the murder. 

She passed now from the subject of the nurse with 
a half -timid remark about 'expense/ 
[ 314 ] 


'Oh ! the expense does n't matter !' said Mrs. Boyce, 
as she stood absently before the lately kindled fire, 
warming her chilled fingers at the blaze. 

'Papa is more at ease in those ways?' Marcella 
ventured. And kneeling down beside her mother she 
gently chafed one of the cold hands. 

'There seems to be enough for what is wanted/ said 
Mrs. Boyce, bearing the chafing with patience. ' Your 
father, I believe, has made great progress this year in 
freeing the estate. Thank you, my dear. I am not 
cold now.' 

And she gently withdrew her hand. 

Marcella, indeed, had already noticed that there 
were now no weeds on the garden-paths, that instead 
of one gardener there were three, that the old library 
had been decently patched and restored, that there 
was another servant, that William, grown into a very 
tolerable footman, wore a reputable coat, and that 
a plain but adequate carriage and horse had met her at 
the station. Her pity even understood that part of 
her father's bitter resentment of his ever-advancing 
disablement came from his feeling that here at last, 
just as death was in sight he, that squalid failure, 
Dick Boyce, was making a success of something. 

Presently, as she knelt before the fire, a question 
escaped her, which, when it was spoken, she half- 

'Has papa been able to do anything for the cottages 

'I don't think so/ said Mrs. Boyce, calmly. After a 
minute's pause she added, 'That will be for your reign, 
my dear.' 

[ 315 ] 


Marcella looked up with a sharp thrill of pain. 

'Papa is better, mamma, and and I don't know 
what you mean. I shall never reign here without you/ 

Mrs. Boyce began to fidget with the rings on her 
thin left hand. 

'When Mellor ceases to be your father's it will be 
yours/ she said, not without a certain sharp decision; 
1 that was settled long ago. I must be free and if 
you are to do anything with this place, you must give 
your youth and strength to it. And your father is not 
better except for the moment. Dr. Clarke exactly 
foretold the course of his illness to me two years ago, 
on my urgent request. He may live four months 
six, if we can get him to the South. More is impossible.' 

There was something ghastly in her dry composure. 
Marcella caught her hand again and leant her trembling 
young cheek against it. 

'I could not live here without you, mamma!' 

Mrs. Boyce could not for once repress the inner 
fever which in general her will controlled so well. 

'I hardly think it would matter to you so much, 
my dear.' 

Marcella shrank. 

'I don't wonder you say that!' she said, in a low 
voice. 'Do you think it was all a mistake, mamma, 
my going away eighteen months ago a wrong act?' 

Mrs. Boyce grewo*estless. 

'I judge nobody, my dear! unless I am obliged. 
As you know, I am for liberty above all' she 
spoke with emphasis 'for letting the past alone. 
But I imagine you must certainly have learnt to do 
without us. Now I ought to go to your father.' 
[ 316 ] 


But Marcella held her. 

'Do you remember in the Purgatorio, mamma, *the 
lines about the loser in the game: "When the game 
of dice breaks up, he who lost lingers sorrowfully 
behind, going over the throws, and learning by his 
grief "1 Do you remember?' 

Mrs. Boyce looked down upon her, involuntarily a 
little curious, a little nervous, but assenting. It was 
one of the inconsistencies of her strange character 
that she had all her life been a persistent Dante 
student. The taste for the most strenuous and passion- 
ate of poets had developed in her happy youth ; it had 
survived through the loneliness of her middle life. Like 
everything else personal to herself she never spoke of 
it; but the little worn books on her table had been 
familiar to Marcella from a child. 

' E tristo impara ? ' repeated Marcella, her voice waver- 
ing. ' Mamma ' she laid her face against her mother's 
dress again ' I have lost more throws than you 
think in the last two years. Won't you believe I may 
have learnt a little?' 

She raised her eyes to her mother's pinched and 
mask-like face. Mrs. Boyce's lips moved as though 
she would have asked a question. But she did not 
ask it. She drew, instead, the stealthy breath Marcella 
knew well the breath of one who has measured 
precisely her own powers of endurance, and will not 
risk them for a moment by any digression into alien 
fields of emotion. 

'Well, but one expects persons like you to learn/ 
she said, with a light, cold manner, which made the 
words mere convention. There was silence an instant ; 
[ 317 ] 


then, probably to release herself, her hand just touched 
her daughter's hair. 'Now, will you come up in half 
an hour? That was twelve striking, and Emma is 
never quite punctual with his food/ 

Marcella went to her father at the hour named. 
She found him in his wheeled chair, beside a window 
opened to the sun, and overlooking the Cedar Garden. 
The room in which he sat was the state bedroom of 
the old house. It had a marvellous paper of branch- 
ing trees and parrots and red-robed Chinamen, in the 
taste of the morning-room downstairs, a carved four- 
post bed, a grate adorned with purplish Dutch tiles, 
an array of family miniatures over the mantelpiece, 
and on a neighbouring wall a rack of old swords and 
rapiers. The needlework hangings of the bed were full 
of holes; the seats of the Chippendale chairs were 
frayed or tattered. But, none the less, the inalienable 
character and dignity of his sleeping-room were a 
bitter satisfaction to Richard Boyce, even in his sick- 
ness. After all said and done, he was king here in 
his father's and grandfather's place; ruling where 
they ruled, and whether they would or no dying 
where they died, with the same family faces to bear 
him witness from the walls, and the same vault await- 
ing him. 

When his daughter entered, he turned his head, 
and his eyes, deep and black still as ever, but sunk in 
a yellow relic of a face, showed a certain agitation. 
She was disagreeably aware that his thoughts were 
much occupied with her; that he was full of grievance 
towards her, and would probably before long bring the 
[ 318 ] 


pathos of his situation as well as the weight of his 
dying authority to bear upon her, for purposes she 
already suspected with alarm. 

'Are you a little easier, papa?' she said, as she came 
up to him. 

'I should think as a nurse you ought to know 
better, my dear, than to ask/ he said, testily. 'When 
a person is in my condition, inquiries of that sort are 
a mockery!' 

'But one may be in less or more pain/ she said, 
gently. 'I hoped Dr. Clarke's treatment yesterday 
might have given you some relief/ 

He did not vouchsafe an answer. She took some 
work and sat down by him. Mrs. Boyce, who had 
been tidying a table of food and medicine, came and 
asked him if he would be wheeled into another room 
across the gallery, which had been arranged as a sit- 
ting-room. He shook his head irritably. 

'I am not fit for it. Can't you see? And I want to 
speak to Marcella/ 

Mrs. Boyce went away. Marcella waited, not with- 
out a tremor. She was sitting in the sun, her head 
bent over the muslin strings she was hemming for her 
nurse's bonnet. The window was wide open ; outside, 
the leaves under a warm breeze were gently drifting 
down into the Cedar Garden, amid a tangled mass of 
flowers, mostly yellow or purple. To one side rose the 
dark layers of the cedars; to the other, the grey front 
of the library wing. 

Mr. Boyce looked at her with the frown which had 
now become habitual to him, moved his lips once or 
twice without speaking ; and at last made his effort. 
[ 319 ] 


' I should think, Marcella, you must often regret by 
now the step you took eighteen months ago!' 

She grew pale. 

'How regret it, papa?' she said, without looking up. 

'Why, good God!' he said, angrily; 'I should think 
the reasons for regret are plain enough. You threw 
over a man who was devoted to you, and could have 
given you the finest position in the county, for the 
most nonsensical reasons in the world reasons that 
by now, I am certain, you are ashamed of.' 

He saw her wince, and enjoyed his prerogative of 
weakness. In his normal health he would never have 
dared so to speak to her. But of late, during long fits 
of feverish brooding intensified by her return home 
he had vowed to himself to speak his mind. 

'Are n't you ashamed of them?' he repeated, as she 
was silent. 

She looked up. 

' I am not ashamed of anything I did to save Hurd, 
if that is what you mean, papa/ 

Mr. Boyce's anger grew. 

'Of course you know what everybody said?' 

She stooped over her work again, and did not reply. 

'It's no good being sullen over it,' he said, in exas- 
peration; 'I'm your father, and I'm dying. I have a 
right to question you. It's my duty to see something 
settled, if I can, before I go. Is it true that all the time 
you were attacking Raeburn about politics and the 
reprieve, and what not, you were really behaving as 
you never ought to have behaved, with Harry Whar- 

He gave out the words with sharp emphasis, and, 
[ 320 ] 


bending towards her, he laid an emaciated hand upon 
her arm. 

'What use is there, papa, in going back to these 
things?' she said, driven to bay, her colour going and 
coming. ' I may have been wrong in a hundred ways, 
but you never understood that the real reason for it 
all was that that I never was in love with Mr. 

'Then why did you accept him?' He fell back 
against his pillows with a jerk. 

'As to that, I will confess my sins readily enough,' 
she said, while her lip trembled, and he saw the tears 
spring into her eyes. 'I accepted him for what you 
just now called his position in the county, though not 
quite in that way either.' 

He was silent a little, then he began again in a voice 
which gradually became unsteady from self-pity. 

'Well, now look here! I have been thinking about 
this matter a great deal and God knows I've time 
to think and cause to think, considering the state I'm 
in and I see no reason whatever why I should not 
try before I die to put this thing straight. That 
man was head over ears in love with you, madly in 
love with you. I used to watch him, and I know. Of 
course you offended and distressed him greatly. He 
could never have expected such conduct from you or 
any one else. But he's not the man to change round 
easily, or to take up with any one else. Now, if you 
regret what you did or the way in which you did it, 
why should n't I a dying man may be allowed a 
little licence, I should think! give him a hint?' 

'Papa!' cried Marcella, dropping her work, and 
[ 321 ] 


looking at him with a pale, indignant passion, which 
a year ago would have quelled him utterly. But he 
held up his hand. 

'Now just let me finish. It would be no good my 
doing a thing of this kind without saying something 
to you first, because you'd find it out, and your pride 
would be the ruin of it. You always had a demoniacal 
pride, Marcella, even when you were a tiny child ; but 
if you make up your mind now to let me tell him you 
regret what you did just that you'll make him 
happy, and yourself, for you know very well he's a 
man of the highest character and your poor father, 
who never did you much harm anyway!' His voice 
faltered. 'I'd manage it so that there should be 
nothing humiliating to you in it whatever. As if there 
could be anything humiliating in confessing such a 
mistake as that ; besides, what is there to be ashamed 
of? You're no pauper. I've pulled Mellor out of the 
mud for you, though you and your mother do give me 
credit for so precious little!' 

He lay back, trembling with fatigue, yet still star- 
ing at her with glittering eyes, while his hand on the 
invalid table fixed to the side of his chair shook pite- 
ously. Marcella dreaded the effect the whole scene 
might have upon him; but, now they were in the 
midst of it, both feeling for herself and prudence for 
him drove her into the strongest speech she could 

'Papa, if anything of that sort were done, I should 

take care Mr. Raeburn knew I had had nothing to do 

with it in such a way that it would be impossible 

for him to carry it further. Dear papa, don't think 

[ 322 ] 


of such a thing any more. Because I treated Mr. 
Raeburn unjustly last year, are we now to harass and 
persecute him? I would sooner disappear from every- 
body I know from you and mamma, from England 
and never be heard of again/ 

She stopped a moment struggling for composure 
- that she might not excite him too much. 

'Besides, it would be absurd! You forget I have 
seen a good deal of Mr. Raeburn lately while I have 
been with the Winterbournes. He has entirely given 
up all thought of me. Even my vanity could see 
that plainly enough. His best friends expect him to 
marry a bright, fascinating little creature of whom 
I saw a good deal in James Street a Miss Mac- 

'Miss how much? 7 he asked, roughly. 

She repeated the name, and then dwelt, with a cer- 
tain amount of confusion and repetition, upon the 
probabilities of the matter half -conscious all the 
time that she was playing a part, persuading herself 
and him of something she was not at all clear about in 
her own inner mind but miserably, passionately 
determined to go through with it all the same. 

He bore with what she said to him, half -disappointed 
and depressed, yet also half -incredulous. He had al- 
ways been obstinate, and the approach of death had 
emphasised his few salient qualities, as decay had 
emphasised the bodily frame. He said to himself stub- 
bornly that he would find some way yet of testing the 
matter in spite of her. He would think it out. 

Meanwhile, step by step, she brought the conversa- 
tion to less dangerous things, and she was finally 
[ 323 ] 


gliding into some chat about the Winterbournes when 
he interrupted her abruptly - 

'And that other fellow Wharton. Your mother 
tells me you have seen him in London. Has he been 
making love to you?' 

' Suppose I won't be catechised!' she said, gaily, 
determined to allow no more tragedy of any kind. 
'Besides, papa, you can't read your gossip as good 
people should. Mr. Wharton 's engagement to a certain 
Lady Selina Farrell a distant cousin of the Winter- 
bournes was announced in several papers with great 
plainness three weeks ago/ 

At that moment her mother came in, looking anx- 
iously at them both, and half -resentfully at Marcella. 
Marcella, sore and bruised in every moral fibre, got up 
to go. 

Something in the involuntary droop of her beautiful 
head as she left the room drew her father's eyes after 
her, and for the time his feeling towards her softened 
curiously. Well, she had not made very much of her 
life so far ! That old strange jealousy of her ability, her 
beauty, and her social place, he had once felt so hotly, 
died away. He wished her, indeed, to be Lady Max- 
well. Yet for the moment there was a certain balm in 
the idea that she too her mother's daughter with 
her Merritt blood could be unlucky. 

Marcella went about all day under a vague sense of 
impending trouble the result, no doubt, of that in- 
tolerable threat of her father's, against which she was, 
after all, so defenceless. 

But whatever it was, it made her all the more nerv- 
ous and sensitive about the Hallins; about her one 
[ 324 ] 


true friend, to whom she was slowly revealing herself, 
even without speech; whose spiritual strength had 
been guiding and training her ; whose physical weak- 
ness had drawn to him the maternal, the spending in- 
stincts which her nursing-life had so richly developed. 

She strolled down the drive to meet the post. But 
there were no letters from London, and she came in, 
inclined to be angry indeed with Louis Craven for 
deserting her, but saying to herself at the same time 
that she must have heard if anything had gone wrong. 

An hour or so later, just as the October evening 
was closing in, she was sitting dreaming over a dim 
wood-fire in the drawing-room. Her father, as might 
have been expected, had been very tired and comatose 
all day. Her mother was with him ; the London nurse 
was to sit up, and Marcella felt herself forlorn and 

Suddenly, in the silence of the house, she heard the 
front door-bell ring. There was a step in the hall 
she sprang up the door opened, and William, with 
fluttered emphasis, announced 

' Lord Maxwell !' 

In the dusk she could just see his tall form the 
short pause as he perceived her then her hand was 
in his, and the paralysing astonishment of that first 
instant had disappeared under the grave emotion of 
his look. 

'Will you excuse me/ he said, 'for coming at this 
hour? But I am afraid you have heard nothing yet 
of our bad news and Hallin himself was anxious 
I should come and tell you. Miss Hallin could not 
write, and Mr. Craven, I was to tell you, had been ill 
[ 325 ] 


for a week with a chill. You have n't then seen any 
account of the lecture in the papers?' 

'No; I have looked yesterday and to-day in our 
paper, but there was nothing ' 

'Some of the Radical papers reported it. I hoped 
you might have seen it. But when we got down here 
this afternoon, and there was nothing from you, both 
Miss Hallin and Edward felt sure you had not heard 
and I walked over. It was a most painful, distressing 
scene, and he is very ill.' 

'But you have brought him to the Court?' she 
said, trembling, lost in the thought of Hallin, her 
quick breath coming and going. 'He was able to 
bear the journey? Will you tell me? will you sit 

He thanked her hurriedly, and took a seat opposite 
to her, within the circle of the firelight, so that she 
saw his deep mourning and the look of repressed suf- 

'The whole thing was extraordinary I can hardly 
now describe it,' he said, holding his hat in his hands 
and staring into the fire. ' It began excellently. There 
was a very full room. Bennett was in the chair 
and Edward seemed much as usual. He had been 
looking desperately ill, but he declared that he was 
sleeping better, and that his sister and I coddled him. 
Then directly he was well started ! I felt somehow 
that the audience was very hostile. And he evidently 
felt it more and more. There was a good deal of inter- 
ruption and hardly any cheers and I saw after a little 
I was sitting not far behind him that he was dis- 
couraged that he had lost touch. It was presently 
[ 326 ] 


clear, indeed, that the real interest of the meeting 
lay not in the least in what he had to say, but in the 
debate that was to follow. They meant to let him have 
his hour but not a minute more. I watched the 
men about me, and I could see them following the 
clock thirsting for their turn. Nothing that he said 
seemed to penetrate them in the smallest degree. He 
was there merely as a ninepin to be knocked over. 
I never saw a meeting so possessed with a madness of 
fanatical conviction it was amazing 1 / 

He paused, looking sadly before him. She made a 
little movement, and he roused himself instantly. 
' It was just a few minutes before he was to sit down 

I was thankful ! when suddenly I heard his voice 
change. I do not know now what happened but 
I believe he completely lost consciousness of the scene 
before him the sense of strain, of exhaustion, of 
making no way, must have snapped something. He 
began a sort of confession a reverie in public 
about himself, his life, his thoughts, his prayers, his 
hopes mostly his religious hopes for the work- 
ing-man, for England I never heard anything of the 
kind from him before you know his reserve. It 
was so intimate so painful oh ! so painful ! ' - - he 
drew himself together with an involuntary shudder 

-'before this crowd, this eager, hostile crowd which 
was only pining for him to sit down to get out of 
their way. The men near me began to look at each 
other and titter. They wondered what he meant by 
maundering on like that "damned canting stuff" 

- 1 heard one man near me call it. I tore off a bit 

of paper, and passed a line to Bennett asking him to 

[ 327 ] 


get hold of Edward, to stop it. But I think Bennett 
had rather lost his presence of mind, and I saw him 
look back at me and shake his head. Then time was 
up, and they began to shout him down/ 

Marcella made an exclamation of horror. He turned 
to her. 

'I think it was the most tragic scene I ever saw,' 
he said, with a feeling as simple as it was intense. 
' This crowd so angry and excited without a particle 
of understanding or sympathy laughing, and shout- 
ing at him and he in the midst white as death - 
talking this strange nonsense his voice floating in 
a high key, quite unlike itself. At last, just as I was 
getting up to go to him, I saw Bennett rise. But we 
were both too late. He fell at our feet!' 

Marcella gave an involuntary sob ! ' What a horror ! ' 
she said; 'what a martyrdom!' 

'It was just that,' he answered in a low voice - 
'it was a martyrdom. And when one thinks of the 
way in which for years past he has held these big 
meetings in the hollow of his hand, and, now because 
he crosses their passion, their whim no kindness 
no patience nothing but a blind hostile fury ! Yet 
they thought him a traitor, no doubt. Oh ! it was all 
a tragedy!' 

There was silence an instant. Then he resumed : 

'We got him into the back room. Luckily there was 
a doctor on the platform. It was heart failure, of 
course, with brain prostration. We managed to get 
him home, and Susie Hallin and I sat up. He was 
delirious all night; but yesterday he rallied, and last 
night he begged us to move him out of London if 
[ 328 ] 


we could. So we got two doctors and an invalid-car- 
riage, and by three this afternoon we were all at the 
Court. My aunt was ready for him his sister is 
there and a nurse. Clarke was there to meet him. 
He thinks he cannot possibly live more than a few 
weeks possibly even a few days. The shock and 
strain have been irreparable.' 

Marcella lay back in her chair, struggling with her 
grief, her head and face turned away from him, her 
eyes hidden by her handkerchief. Then in some mys- 
terious way she was suddenly conscious that Aldous 
was no longer thinking of Hallin, but of her. 

'He wants very much to see you/ he said, 
bending towards her; 'but I know that you have 
yourself serious illness to nurse. Forgive me for 
not having inquired after Mr. Boyce. I trust he is 

She sat up, red-eyed, but mistress of herself. The 
tone had been all gentleness, but to her quivering 
sense some slight indefinable change coldness had 
passed into it. 

'He is better, thank you for the present. And 
my mother does not let me do very much. We have 
a nurse too. When shall I come?' 

He rose. 

'Could you come to-morrow afternoon? There 
is to be a consultation of doctors in the morning, 
which will tire him. About six? that was what he 
said. He is very weak, but in the day quite conscious 
and rational. My aunt begged me to say how glad 
she would be ' 

He paused. An invincible awkwardness took pos- 
[ 329 ] 


session of both of them. She longed to speak to him 
of his grandfather, but could not find the courage. 

When he was gone, she, standing alone in the fire- 
light, gave one passionate thought to the fact that so 
-in this tragic way they had met again in this 
room where he had spoken to her his last words as a 
lover; and then, steadily, she put everything out of 
her mind but her friend and death. 


MRS. BOYCE received Marcella's news with more sym- 
pathy than her daughter had dared to hope for, and she 
made no remark upon Aldous himself and his visit, for 
which Marcella was grateful to her. 

As they left the dining-room, after their short even- 
ing meal, to go up to Mr. Boyce, Marcella detained her 
mother an instant. 

'Mamma, will you please not tell papa that that 
Lord Maxwell came here this afternoon? And will you 
explain to him why I am going there to-morrow?' 

Mrs. Boyce's fair cheek flushed. Marcella saw that 
she understood. 

'If I were you, I should not let your father talk to 
you any more about those things/ she said, with a cer- 
tain proud impatience. 

'If I can help it!' exclaimed Marcella. 'Will you 
tell him, mamma about Mr. Hallin? and how 
good he has been to me?' 

Then her voice failed her, and, hurriedly leaving 
her mother at the top of the stairs, she went away 
by herself to struggle with a grief and smart almost 

That night passed quietly at the Court. Hallin was 
at intervals slightly delirious, but less so than the 
night before; and in the early morning the young doc- 
tor, who had sat up with him, reported him to Aldous 
as calmer and a little stronger. But the heart mischief 
[ 331 ] 


was hopeless, and might bring the bruised life to an 
end at any moment. 

He could not, however, be kept in bed, owing to 
restlessness and difficulty of breathing, and by midday 
he was in Aldous 's sitting-room, drawn close to the 
window, that he might delight his eyes with the wide 
range of wood and plain that it commanded. After 
a very wet September, the October days were now fol- 
lowing each other in a settled and sunny peace. The 
great woods of the Chilterns, just yellowing towards 
that full golden moment short, like all perfection 
-which only beeches know, rolled down the hill- 
slopes to the plain, their curving lines cut here and 
there by straight fir stems, drawn clear and dark on 
the pale background of sky and lowland. In the park, 
immediately below the window, groups of wild cherry 
and of a slender-leaved maple made spots of 'flame 
and amethyst' on the smooth falling lawns; the deer 
wandered and fed, and the squirrels were playing and 
feasting among the beech-nuts. 

Since Aldous and his poor sister had brought him 
home from the Bethnal Green hall in which the Land 
Reform Conference had been held, Hallin had spoken 
little, except in delirium, and that little had been 
marked by deep and painful depression. But this 
morning, when Aldous was summoned by the nurse, 
and found him propped up by the window, in front 
of the great view, he saw gracious signs of change. 
Death, indeed, already in possession, looked from the 
blue eyes so plainly that Aldous, on his first entrance, 
had need of all his own strength of will to keep his 
composure. But with the certainty of that great re- 
[ 332 ] 


lease, and with the abandonment of all physical and 
mental struggle the struggle of a lifetime Hallin 
seemed to-day to have recovered something of his 
characteristic serenity and blitheness the temper 
which had made him the leader of his Oxford contem- 
poraries, and the dear comrade of his friend's life. 

When Aldous came in, Hallin smiled and lifted a 
feeble hand towards the park and the woods. 

'Could it have greeted me more kindly,' he said, in 
his whispering voice, 'for the end?' 

Aldous sat down beside him, pressing his hand, and 
there was silence till Hallin spoke again. 

'You will keep this sitting-room, Aldous?' 


' I am glad. I have known you in it so long. What 
good talks we have had here in the old hot days! I 
was hot, at least, and you bore with me. Land Re- 
form Church Reform Wages Reform we have 
threshed them all out in this room. Do you remember 
that night I kept you up till it was too late to go to 
bed, talking over my Church plans? How full I was 
of it ! the Church that was to be the people - 
reflecting their life, their differences governed by 
them growing with them. You would n't join it, 
Aldous our poor little Association!' 

Aldous's strong lip quivered. 

'Let me think of something I did join in,' he said. 

Hallin's look shone on him with a wonderful affec- 

'Was there anything else you didn't help in? I 
don't remember it. I ' ve dragged you into most things. 
You never minded failure. And I have not had so 
[ 333 ] 


much of it not till this last. This has been failure 
- absolute and complete/ 

But there was no darkening of expression. He sat 
quietly smiling. 

'Do you suppose anybody who could look beyond 
the moment would dream of calling it failure?' said 
Aldous, with difficulty. 

Hallin shook his head gently, and was silent for a 
little time, gathering strength and breath again. 

'I ought to suffer' he said, presently. 'Last 
week I dreaded my own feeling if I should fail or 
break down more than the failure itself. But since 
yesterday last night I have no more regrets. I 
see that my power is gone that if I were to live I 
could no longer carry on the battle or my old life. 
I am out of touch. Those whom I love and would 
serve, put me aside. Those who invite me, I do not 
care to join. So I drop into the gulf and the 
pageant rushes on. But the curious thing is now I 
have no suffering. And as to the future do you re- 
member Jowett in the Introduction to the "Phsedo" ' 

He feebly pointed to a book beside him, which 
Aldous took up. Hallin guided him and he read : 

' Most persons when the last hour comes are resigned 
to the order of nature and the will of God. They are not 
thinking of Dante's "Inferno" or "Paradiso," or of 
the "Pilgrim's Progress." Heaven and Hell are not 
realities to them, but words or ideas the outward sym- 
bols of some great mystery, they hardly know what.' 

'It is so with me/ said Hallin, smiling, as, at his 
gesture, Aldous laid the book aside; 'yet not quite. 
To my mind, that mystery indeed is all unknown and 
[ 334 ] 


dark but to the heart it seems unveiled with 
the heart, I see/ 

A little later Aldous was startled to hear him say, 
very clearly and quickly : 

' Do you remember that this is the fifth of October? ' 

Aldous drew his chair closer, that he might not 
raise his voice. 

'Yes, Ned/ 

'Two years, wasn't it, to-day? Will you forgive 
me if I speak of her?' 

'You shall say anything you will/ 

'Did you notice that piece of news I sent you, in 
my last letter to Geneva? But of course you did. 
Did it please you?' 

'Yes, I was glad of it/ said Aldous, after a pause, 
'extremely glad. I thought she had escaped a great 

Hallin studied his face closely. 

' She is free, Aldous and she is a noble creature 
she has learnt from life and from death this 
last two years. And you still love her. Is it right 
to make no more effort?' 

Aldous saw the perspiration standing on the wasted 
brow would have given the world to be able to 
content or cheer him yet would not, for the world, 
at such a moment be false to his own feeling or deceive 
his questioner. 

'I think it is right,' he said, deliberately 'for a 

good many reasons, Edward. In the first place I have 

not the smallest cause not the fraction of a cause 

- to suppose that I could occupy with her now any 

other ground than that I occupied two years ago. 

[ 335 ] 


She has been kind and friendly to me on the whole 
- since we met in London. She has even expressed 
regret for last year meaning, of course, as I under- 
stood, for the pain and trouble that may be said to 
have come from her not knowing her own mind. She 
wished that we should be friends. And' he turned 
his head away 'no doubt I could be, in time. . . . 
But, you see in all that, there is nothing whatever 
to bring me forward again. My fatal mistake last 
year, I think now, lay in my accepting what she gave 
me accepting it so readily, so graspingly even. That 
was my fault, my blindness, and it was as unjust 
to her as it was hopeless for myself. For hers is a 
nature' his eyes came back to his friend; his voice 
took a new force and energy 'which, in love at any 
rate, will give all or nothing and will never be 
happy itself, or bring happiness, till it gives all. That 
is what last year taught me. So that even if she 
out of kindness or remorse for giving pain were 
willing to renew the old tie I should be her worst 
enemy and my own if I took a single step towards it. 
Marriage on such terms as I was thankful for last 
year, would be humiliation to me, and bring no gain 
to her. It will never serve a man with her' --his 
voice broke into emotion 'that he should make no 
claims ! Let him claim the uttermost farthing her 
whole self. If she gives it, then he may know what 
love means ! ' 

Hallin had listened intently. At Aldous's last words 

his expression showed pain and perplexity. His mind 

was full of vague impressions, memories, which seemed 

to argue with and dispute one of the chief things 

[ 336 ] 


Aldous had been saying. But they were not definite 
enough to be put forward. His sensitive, chivalrous 
sense, even in this extreme weakness, remembered 
the tragic weight that attaches inevitably to dying 
words. Let him not do more harm than good. 

He rested a little. They brought him food; and 
Aldous sat beside him making pretence to read, so 
that he might be encouraged to rest. His sister came 
and went; so did the doctor. But when they were 
once more alone, Hallin put out his hand and touched 
his companion. 

'What is it, dear Ned?' 

'Only one thing more, before we leave it. Is that 
all that stands between you now the whole? You 
spoke to me once in the summer of feeling angry, 
more angry than you could have believed. Of course, 
I felt the same. But just now you spoke of its all 
being your fault. Is there anything changed in your 

Aldous hesitated. It was extraordinarily painful to 
him to speak of the past, and it troubled him that at 
such a moment it should trouble Hallin. 

'There is nothing changed, Ned, except that per- 
haps time makes some difference always. I don't want 
now' --he tried to smile 'as I did then, to make 
anybody else suffer for my suffering. But perhaps I 
marvel even more than I did at first, that that - 
she could have allowed some things to happen as she 

The tone was firm and vibrating ; and, in speaking, 
the whole face had developed a strong animation most 
passionate and human. 

[ 337 ] 


Hallin sighed. 

' I often think/ he said, ' that she was extraordinarily 
immature much more immature than most girls of 
that age as to feeling. It was really the brain that 
was alive/ 

Aldous silently assented; so much so that Hallin 
repented himself. 

'But not now/ he said, in his eager dying whisper; 
'not now. The plant is growing full and tall, into the 
richest life.' 

Aldous took the wasted hand tenderly in his own. 
There was something inexpressibly touching in this 
last wrestle of Hallin's affection with another's grief. 
But it filled Aldous with a kind of remorse, and with 
the longing to free him from that, as from every other 
burden, in these last precious hours of life. And at 
last he succeeded, as he thought, in drawing his mind 
away from it. They passed to other things. Hallin, 
indeed, talked very little more during the day. He 
was very restless and weak, but not in much positive 
suffering. Aldous read to him at intervals, from Isaiah 
or Plato, the bright, sleepless eyes following every 

At last the light began to sink. The sunset flooded 
in from the Berkshire uplands and the far Oxford 
plain, and lay in gold and purple on the falling woods 
and the green stretches of the park. The distant edges 
of hill were extraordinarily luminous and clear, and 
Aldous, looking into the west with the eye of one to 
whom every spot and line were familiar landmarks, 
could almost fancy he saw beyond the invisible river, 
the hill, the 'lovely tree against the western sky/ 
[ 338 ] 


which keep for ever the memory of one with whose 
destiny it had often seemed to him that Hallin's had 
something in common. To him, as to Thyrsis, the 
same early joy, the same 'happy quest/ the same 
'fugitive and gracious light 5 for guide and beacon, 

'does not come with houses or with gold, 
With place, with honour and a flattering crew'; 

and to him, too, the same tasked pipe and tired throat, 
the same struggle with the 'life of men unblest,' the 
same impatient tryst with death. 

The lovely lines ran dirge-like in his head, as he sat, 
sunk in grief, beside his friend. Hallin did not speak ; 
but his eye took note of every change of light, of every 
darkening tone, as the quiet English scene, with its 
villages, churches, and woods, withdrew itself plane 
by plane into the evening haze. His soul followed the 
quiet deer, the homing birds, loosening itself gently 
the while from pain and from desire, saying farewell 
to country, to the poor, to the work left undone, and 
the hopes unrealised to everything except to love. 

It had just struck six when he bent forward to the 
window beneath which ran the wide front terrace. 

'That was her step'/ he said, while his face lit up; 
'will you bring her here?' 

Marcella rang the bell at the Court with a fast-beat- 
ing heart. The old butler who came gave what her 
shrinking sense thought a forbidding answer to her 
shy greeting of him, and led her first into the drawing- 
room. A small figure in deep black rose from a distant 
[ 339 ] 


chair and came forward stiffly. Marcella found herself 
shaking hands with Miss Raeburn. 

' Will you sit and rest a little before you go upstairs? ' 
said that lady with careful politeness, 'or shall I send 
word at once? He is hardly worse but as ill as he 
can be/ 

'I am not the least tired/ said Marcella, and Miss 
Raeburn rang. 

'Tell his lordship, please, that Miss Boyce is here/ 

The title jarred and hurt Marcella's ear. But she had 
scarcely time to catch it before Aldous entered, a little 
bent, as it seemed to her, from his tall erectness, and 
speaking with an extreme quietness, even monotony 
of manner. 

'He is waiting for you will you come at once?' 

He led her up the central staircase and along the fa- 
miliar passages, walking silently a little in front of her. 
They passed the long line of Caroline and Jacobean 
portraits in the upper gallery, till just outside his own 
door Aldous paused. 

'He ought not to talk long/ he said, hesitating, 
'but you will know of course better than any of 

'I will watch him/ she said, almost inaudibly, and 
he gently opened the door and let her pass, shutting it 
behind her. 

The nurse, who was sitting beside her patient, got 
up as Marcella entered, and pointed her to a low chair 
on his further side. Susie Hallin rose too, and kissed 
the newcomer hurriedly, absently, without a word, 
lest she should sob. Then she and the nurse dis- 
appeared through an inner door. The evening light 
[ 340 ] 


was still freely admitted ; and there were some candles. 
By the help of both she could only see him indistinctly. 
But in her own mind, as she sat down, she determined 
that he had not even days to live. 

Yet as she bent over him she saw a playful gleam 
on the cavernous face. 

'You won't scold me?' said the changed voice - 
'you did warn me you and Susie but I was 
obstinate. It was best so !' 

She pressed her lips to his hand and was answered by 
a faint pressure from the cold fingers. 

'If I could have been there!' she murmured. 

'No I am thankful you were not. And I must not 

think of it or of any trouble. Aldous is very bitter 

- but he will take comfort by and by he will see 

it and them more justly. They meant me no un- 

kindness. They were full of an idea, as I was. When I 

came back to myself first all was despair. I was 

in a blank horror of myself and life. Now it has gone 

- 1 don't know how. It is not of my own will some 

hand has lifted a weight. I seem to float without 


He closed his eyes, gathering strength again in the 
interval, by a strong effort of will calling up in the 
dimming brain what he had to say. She meanwhile 
spoke to him in a low voice, mainly to prevent his 
talking, telling him of her father, of her mother's strain 
of nursing of herself she hardly knew what. How 
grotesque to be giving him these little bits of news 
about strangers to him, this hovering, consecrated 
soul, on the brink of the great secret ! 

In the intervals, while he was still silent, she could 
[ 341 ] 


not sometimes prevent the pulse of her own life from 
stirring. Her eye wandered round the room Al- 
dous's familiar room. There, on the writing-table with 
its load of letters and books, stood the photograph of 
Hallin; another, her own, used to stand beside it; it 
was solitary now. 

Otherwise, all was just as it had been flowers, 
books, newspapers the signs of familiar occupation, 
the hundred small details of character and personal- 
ity which in estrangement take to themselves such 
a smarting significance for the sad and craving heart. 
The date the anniversary echoed in her mind. 

Then, with a rush of remorseful pain, her thoughts 
came back to the present and to Hallin. At the same 
moment she saw that his eyes were open, and fixed 
upon her with a certain anxiety and expectancy. He 
made a movement as though to draw her towards him ; 
and she stooped to him. 

'I feel/ he said, 'as though my strength were leav- 
ing me fast. Let me ask you one question because 
of my love for you and him. I have fancied of 
late things were changed. Can you tell me will 
you? or is it unfair?' the words had all their 
bright, natural intonation 'is your heart still 
where it was? or, could you ever undo the 
past ' 

He held her fast, grasping the hand she had given 
him with unconscious force. She had looked up 
startled, her lip trembling like a child's. Then she 
dropped her head against the arm of her chair, as 
though she could not speak. 

He moved restlessly, and sighed. 
[ 342 ] 


'I should not,' he said to himself; 'I should not 
it was wrong. The dying are tyrannous/ 

He even began a word of sweet apology. But she 
shook her head. 

'Don't!' she said, struggling with herself; 'don't say 
that! It would do me good to speak to you ' 

An exquisite smile dawned on Hallin's face. 

' Then ! ' he said ' confess ! ' 

A few minutes later they were sitting together. 
She strongly wished to go ; but he would not yet allow 
it. His face was full of a mystical joy a living faith, 
which must somehow communicate itself in one last 
sacramental effort. 

' How strange that you and I and he should 
have been so mixed together in this queer life. Now 
I seem to regret nothing I hope everything. One 
more little testimony let me bear ! the last. We 
disappear one by one into the dark but each 
may throw his comrades a token before he goes. 
You have been in much trouble of mind and spirit 
- 1 have seen it. Take my poor witness. There is 
one clue, one only goodness the surrendered will. 
Everything is there all faith all religion all 
hope for rich or poor. Whether we feel our way 
through consciously to the Will that asks our will 
- matters little. Aldous and I have differed much on 
this in words never at heart ! I could use words, 
symbols he cannot and they have given me peace. 
But half my best life I owe to him.' 

At this he made a long pause but, still, through 
that weak grasp, refusing to let her go till all was 
[ 343 ] 


said. Day was almost gone; the stars had come out 
over the purple dusk of the park. 

'That Will we reach through duty and pain/ 
he whispered at last, so faintly she could hardly hear 
him, 'is the root, the source. It leads us in living - 
it carries us in death. But our weakness and 
vagueness want help want the human life and 
voice to lean on to drink from. We Christians - 
are orphans without Christ ! There again what 
does it matter what we think about him if only 
we think of him. In one such life are all mysteries, 
and all knowledge and our fathers have chosen for 
us 7 

The insistent voice sank lower and lower into final 
silence though the lips still moved. The eyelids too 
fell. Miss Hallin and the nurse came in. Marcella rose 
and stood for one passionate instant looking down 
upon him. Then, with a pressure of the hand to the 
sister beside her, she stole out. Her one prayer was 
that she might see and meet no one. So soft was her 
'step that even the watching Aldous did not hear her. 
She lifted the heavy latch of the outer door without 
the smallest noise, and found herself alone in the star- 

After Marcella left him, Hallin remained for some 
hours in what seemed to those about him a feverish 
trance. He did not sleep, but he showed no sign of 
responsive consciousness. In reality his mind all 
through was full of the most vivid though incoherent 
images and sensations. But he could no longer dis- 
tinguish between them and the figures and movements 
[ 344 ] 


of the real people in his room. Each passed into and 
intermingled with the other. In some vague, eager 
way he seemed all the time to be waiting or seeking 
for Aldous. There was the haunting impression of 
some word to say some final thing to do which 
would not let him rest. But something seemed always 
to imprison him, to hold him back, and the veil be- 
tween him and the real Aldous watching beside him 
grew ever denser. 

At night they made no effort to move him from the 
couch and the half-sitting posture in which he had 
passed the day. Death had come too near. His sister 
and Aldous and the young doctor who had brought 
him from London watched with him. The curtains 
were drawn back from both the windows, and in the 
clearness of the first autumnal frost a crescent moon 
hung above the woods, the silvery lawns, the plain. 

Not long after midnight Hallin seemed to himself 
to wake, full of purpose and of strength. He spoke, 
as he thought, to Aldous, asking to be alone with him. 
But Aldous did not move ; that sad, watching gaze of 
his showed no change. Then Hallin suffered a sudden 
sharp spasm of anguish and of struggle. Three words 
to say only three words ; but those he must say ! He 
tried again, but Aldous's dumb grief still sat motion- 
less. Then the thought leapt in the ebbing sense, 
'Speech is gone; I shall speak no more!' 

It brought with it a stab, a quick revolt. But some- 
thing checked both, and in a final offering of the soul, 
Hallin gave up his last desire. 

What Aldous saw was only that the dying man 
opened his hand as though it asked for that of his 
[ 345 1 


friend. He placed his own within those seeking fingers, 
and Hallin's latest movement which death stopped 
halfway was to raise it to his lips. 

So Marcella's confession made in the abandon- 
ment, the blind passionate trust, of a supreme moment 
bore no fruit. It went with Hallin to the grave. 


I THINK I saw the letters arrive/ said Mrs. Boyce to 
her daughter. 'And Donna Margherita seems to be 
signalling to us/ 

'Let me go for them, mamma/ 

'No, thank you; I must go in.' 

And Mrs. Boyce rose from her seat, and went slowly 
towards the hotel. Marcella watched her widow's cap 
and black dress as they passed along the pergola of the 
hotel garden, between bright masses of geraniums 
and roses on either side. 

They had been sitting in the famous garden of the 
Cappucini Hotel at Amalfi. To Marcella's left, far be- 
low the high terrace of the hotel, the green and azure 
of the Salernian gulf shone and danced in the sun, to 
her right a wood of oak and arbutus stretched up into 
a purple cliff a wood starred above with gold and 
scarlet berries, and below with cyclamen and nar- 
cissus. From the earth under the leafy oaks for the 
oaks at Amalfi lose and regain their foliage in winter 
and spring by imperceptible gradations came a 
moist English smell. The air was damp and warm. A 
convent-bell tolled from invisible heights above the 
garden, while the olives and vines close at hand were 
full of the chattering voices of gardeners and children, 
and broken here and there by clouds of pink almond- 
blossom. March had just begun, and the afternoons 
were fast lengthening. It was little more than a fort- 
[ 347 ] 


night since Mr. Boyce's death. In the November of 
the preceding year Mrs. Boyce and Marcella had 
brought him to Naples by sea, and there, at a little 
villa on Posilippo, he had drawn sadly to his end. 
It had been a dreary time, from which Marcella could 
hardly hope that her mother would ever fully recover. 
She herself had found in the long months of nursing 
- nursing of which, with quiet tenacity, she had grad- 
ually claimed and obtained her full share a deep 
moral consolation. They had paid certain debts to 
conscience, and they had for ever enshrined her fa- 
ther's memory in the silence of an unmeasured and 
loving pity. 

But the wife? Marcella sorely recognised that to 
her mother these last days had brought none of the 
soothing, reconciling influences they had involved for 
herself. Between the husband and wife there had been 
dumb friction and misery surely also a passionate 
affection! to the end. The invalid's dependence on 
her had been abject, her devotion wonderful. Yet, in 
her close contact with them, the daughter had never 
been able to ignore the existence between them of a 
wretched though tacit debate reproach on his side, 
self-defence or spasmodic effort on hers which 
seemed to have its origin deep in the past, yet to be 
stimulated afresh by a hundred passing incidents of 
the present. Under the blight of it, as under the 
physical strain of nursing, Mrs. Boyce had worn and 
dwindled to a white-haired shadow ; while he had both 
clung to life and feared death more than would norm- 
ally have been the case. At the end he had died in 
her arms, his head on her breast; she had closed his 
[ 348 ] 


eyes and performed every last office without a tear, 
nor had Marcella ever seen her weep from then till now. 
The letters she had received, mostly, Marcella believed, 
from her own family, remained unopened in her travel- 
ling bag. She spoke very little, and was constantly 
restless, nor could Marcella as yet form any idea of the 

After the funeral at Naples Mrs. Boyce had written 
immediately to her husband's solicitor for a copy of his 
will and a statement of affairs. She had then allowed 
herself to be carried off to Amalfi, and had there, while 
entirely declining to admit that she was ill, been clearly 
doing her best to recover health and nerve sufficient to 
come to some decision, to grapple with some crisis 
which Marcella also felt to be impending though as 
to why it should be impending, or what the nature of 
it might be, she could only dread and guess. 

There was much bitter yearning in the girl's heart 
as she sat, breathed on by the soft Italian wind blow- 
ing from this enchanted sea. The inner cry was that 
her mother did not love her, had never loved her, 
and might even now weird, incredible thought ! - 
be planning to desert her. Hallin was dead who 
else was there that cared for her or thought of her? 
Betty Macdonald wrote often, wild, ' schwarmerisch' 
letters. Marcella looked for them with eagerness, and 
answered them affectionately. But Betty must soon 
marry, and then all that would be at an end. Mean- 
while Marcella knew well it was Betty's news that 
made Betty's adoration doubly welcome. Aldous 
Raeburn she never did or could think of him under 
his new name was apparently in London, much 
[ 349 ] 


occupied in politics, and constantly, as it seemed, in 
Betty's society. What likelihood was there that her 
life and his would ever touch again? She thought 
often of her confession to Hallin, but in great per- 
plexity of feeling. She had, of course, said no word of 
secrecy to him at the time. Such a demand in a man's 
last hour would have been impossible. She had simply 
followed a certain mystical love and obedience in tell- 
ing him what he asked to know, and in the strong, 
spontaneous impulse had thought of nothing beyond. 
Afterwards her pride had suffered fresh martyrdom. 
Could he, with his loving instinct, have failed to give 
his friend some sign? If so, it had been unwelcome, 
for since the day of Hallin's funeral she and Aldous 
had been more complete strangers than before. Lady 
Winterbourne, Betty, Frank Leven, had written since 
her father's death ; but from him, nothing. 

By the way, Frank Leven had succeeded at Christ- 
mas, by old Sir Charles Leven's unexpected death, to 
the baronetcy and estates. How would that affect 
his chances with Betty? if indeed there were any 
such chances left. 

As to her own immediate future, Marcella knew from 
many indications that Mellor would be hers at once. 
But in her general tiredness of mind and body she 
was far more conscious of the burden of her inheritance 
than of its opportunities. All that vivid castle-building 
gift which was specially hers, and would revive, was 
at present in abeyance. She had pined once for power 
and freedom, that she might make a Kingdom of 
Heaven of her own, quickly. Now power and freedom, 
up to a certain point, were about to be put into her 
[ 350 ] 


hands; and instead of plans for acting largely and 
bountifully on a plastic outer world, she was saying 
to herself, hungrily, that unless she had something 
close to her to love and live for, she could do nothing. 
If her mother would end these unnatural doubts, if she 
would begin to make friends with her own daughter, 
and only yield herself to be loved and comforted, why 
then it might be possible to think of the village and 
the straw-plaiting ! Otherwise the girl's attitude as 
she sat dreaming in the sun showed her despondency. 

She was roused by her mother's voice calling her 
from the other end of the pergola. 

'Yes, mamma/ 

'Will you come in? There are some letters.' 

'It is the will/ thought Marcella, as Mrs. Boyce 
turned back to the hotel, and she followed. 

Mrs. Boyce shut the door of their sitting-room, and 
then went up to her daughter with a manner which 
suddenly struck and startled Marcella. There was 
natural agitation and trouble in it. 

'There is something in the will, Marcella, which will, 
I fear, annoy and distress you. Your father inserted 
it without consulting me. I want to know what you 
think ought to be done. You will find that Lord 
Maxwell and I have been appointed joint executors.' 

Marcella turned pale. 

'Lord Maxwell!' she said, bewildered. 'Lord Max- 
well Aldous! What do you mean, mamma?' 

Mrs. Boyce put the will into her hands, and, point- 
ing the way among the technicalities she had been 
perusing while Marcella was still lingering in the gar- 
den, showed her the paragraph in question. The words 
[ 351 ] 


of the will were merely formal: 'I hereby appoint/ 
etc., and no more; but in a communication from the 
family solicitor, Mr. French, which Mrs. Boyce silently 
handed to her daughter after she had read the legal 
disposition, the ladies were informed that Mr. Boyce 
had, before quitting England, written a letter to Lord 
Maxwell, duly sealed and addressed, with instructions 
that it should be forwarded to its destination immedi- 
ately after the writer's burial. 'Those instructions/ 
said Mr. French, 'I have carried out. I understand 
that Lord Maxwell was not consulted as to his appoint- 
ment as executor prior to the dra wing-up of the will. 
But you will no doubt hear from him at once, and as 
soon as we know that he consents to act, we can pro- 
ceed immediately to probate/ 

' Mamma, how could he?' said Marcella, in a low, suf- 
focated voice, letting will and letter fall upon her knee. 

'Did he give you no warning in that talk you had 
with him at Mellor?' said Mrs. Boyce, after a minute's 

'Not the least/ said Marcella, rising restlessly and 
beginning to walk up and down. 'He spoke to me 
about wishing to bring it on again asked me to 
let him write. I told him it was all done with - 
for ever ! As to my own feelings, I felt it was no use 
to speak of them ; but I thought I believed I had 
proved to him that Lord Maxwell had absolutely given 
up all idea of such a thing; and that it was already 
probable he would marry some one else. I told him 
I would rather disappear from every one I knew than 
consent to it he could only humiliate us all by say- 
ing a word. And now, after that ! ' 
[ 352 ] 


She stopped in her restless walk, pressing her hands 
miserably together. 

'What does he want with us and our affairs?' she 
broke out. 'He wishes, of course, to have no more 
to do with me. And now we force him force him 
into these intimate relations. What can papa have said 
in that letter to him? What can he have said? Oh! 
it is unbearable! Can't we write at once?' 

She pressed her hands over her eyes in a passion 
of humiliation and disgust. Mrs. Boyce watched her 

'We must wait, anyway, for his letter,' she said. 
'It ought to be here by to-morrow morning.' 

Marcella sank on a chair by an open glass door, her 
eyes wandering, through the straggling roses growing 
against the wall of the stone balcony outside, to the 
laughing purples and greens of the sea. 

' Of course,' she said, unhappily, 'it is most probable 
he will consent. It would not be like him to refuse. 
But, mamma, you must write. / must write and beg 
him not to do it. It is quite simple. We can manage 
everything for ourselves. Oh! how could papa?' she 
broke out again in a low wail, 'how could he?' 

Mrs. Boyce's lips tightened sharply. It seemed to 
her a foolish question. She, at least, had had the ex- 
perience of twenty years out of which to answer it. 
Death had made no difference. She saw her husband's 
character and her own seared and broken life with the 
same tragical clearness; she felt the same gnawing 
of an affection not to be plucked out while the heart 
still beat. This act of indelicacy and injustice was like 
many that had gone before it; and there was in it the 
[ 353 ] 


same evasion and concealment towards herself. No 
matter. She had made her account with it all twenty 
years before. What astonished her was, that the force 
of her strong coercing will had been able to keep him 
for so long within the limits of the smaller and meaner 
immoralities of this world. 

' Have you read the rest of the will ? ' she asked, after 
a long pause. 

Marcella lifted it again, and began listlessly to go 
through it. 

'Mamma!' she said, presently, looking up, the 
colour flushing back into her face, ' I find no mention 
of you in it throughout. There seems to be no provision 
for you/ 

'There is none/ said Mrs. Boyce, quietly. 'There 
was no need. I have my own income. We lived upon 
it for years before your father succeeded to Mellor. It 
is therefore amply sufficient for me now/ 

'You cannot imagine/ cried Marcella, trembling in 
every limb, 'that I am going to take the whole of my 
father's estate, and leave nothing nothing for his 
wife. It would be impossible unseemly. It would 
be to do me an injustice, mamma, as well as yourself/ 
she added, proudly. 

'No, I think not/ said Mrs. Boyce, with her usual 
cold absence of emotion. 'You do not yet understand 
the situation. Your father's misfortunes nearly ruined 
the estate for a time. Your grandfather went through 
great trouble, and raised large sums to' she paused 
for the right phrase 'to free us from the conse- 
quences of your father's actions. I benefited, of 
course, as much as he did. Those sums crippled all 
[ 354 ] 


your grandfather's old age. He was a man to whom 
I was attached whom I respected. Mellor, I believe, 
had never been embarrassed before. Well, your uncle 
did a little towards recovery but on the whole he 
was a fool. Your father has done much more, and you, 
no doubt, will complete it. As for me, I have no claim 
to anything more from Mellor. The place itself is' 
again she stopped for a word of which the energy, 
when it came, seemed to escape her 'hateful to me. 
I shall feel freer if I have no tie to it. And at last I per- 
suaded your father to let me have my way/ 

Marcella rose from her seat impetuously, walked 
quickly across the room, and threw herself on her knees 
beside her mother. 

'Mamma, are you still determined now that we 
two are alone in the world to act towards me, to 
treat me as though I were not your daughter not 
your child at all, but a stranger?' 

It was a cry of anguish. A sudden slight tremor 
swept over Mrs. Boyce's thin and withered face. She 
braced herself to the inevitable. 

'Don't let us make a tragedy of it, my dear/ she 
said, with a light touch on Marcella's hands. 'Let us 
discuss it reasonably. Won't you sit down? I am not 
proposing anything very dreadful. But, like you, I 
have some interests of my own, and I should be glad 
to follow them now a little. I wish to spend 
some of the year in London; to make that, perhaps, 
my headquarters, so as to see something of some old 
friends whom I have had no intercourse with for years 
- perhaps also of my relations/ She spoke of them 
with a particular dryness. 'And I should be glad - 
[ 355 ] 


after this long time to be somewhat taken out of 
one's self, to read, to hear what is going on, to feed 
one's mind a little.' 

Marcella, looking at her, saw a kind of feverish light, 
a sparkling intensity in the pale blue eyes, that filled 
her with amazement. What, after all, did she know 
of this strange individuality from which her own being 
had taken its rise? The same flesh and blood what 
an irony of Nature ! 

'Of course/ continued Mrs. Boyce, 'I should go to 
you, and you would come to me. It would only be 
for part of the year. Probably we should get more 
from each other's lives so. As you know, I long to see 
things as they are, not conventionally. Anyway, 
whether I were there or no, you would probably want 
some companion to help you in your work and plans. 
I am not fit for them. And it would be easy to find 
some one who could act as chaperon in my absence/ 

The hot tears sprang to Marcella's eyes. 'Why did 
you send me away from you, mamma, all my child- 
hood?' she cried. 'It was wrong cruel. I have no 
brother or sister. And you put me out of your life 
when I had no choice, when I was too young to under- 

Mrs. Boyce winced, but made no reply. She sat with 
her delicate hand across her brow. She was the white 
shadow of her former self; but her fragility had always 
seemed to Marcella more indomitable than anybody 
else's strength. 

Sobs began to rise in Marcella's throat. 

'And now/ she said, in half-coherent despair, 'do 
you know what you are doing? You are cutting your- 
[ 356 ] 


self off from me refusing to have any real bond to 
me just when I want it most. I suppose you think 
that I shall be satisfied with the property and the 
power, and the chance of doing what I like. But' - 
she tried her best to gulp back her pain, her outraged 
feeling, to speak quietly 'I am not like that really 
any more. I can take it all up, with courage and heart, 
if you will stay with me, and let me let me love 
you and care for you. But, by myself, I feel as if I 
could not face it ! I am not likely to be happy for 
a long time except in doing what work I can. It is 
very improbable that I shall marry. I dare say you 
don't believe me, but it is true. We are both sad and 
lonely. We have no one but each other. And then you 
talk in this ghastly way of separating from me cast- 
ing me off/ 

Her voice trembled and broke, she looked at her 
mother with a frowning passion. 

Mrs. Boyce still sat silent, studying her daughter 
with a strange, brooding eye. Under her unnatural 
composure there was in reality a half-mad impatience, 
the result of physical and moral reaction. This beauty, 
this youth, talk of sadness, of finality! What folly! 
Still, she was stirred, undermined in spite of herself. 

'There!' she said, with a restless gesture, 'let us, 
please, talk of it no more. I will come back with you - 
I will do my best. We will let the matter of my future 
settlement alone for some months, at any rate, if that 
will satisfy you or be any help to you.' 

She made a movement as though to rise from her 
low chair. But the great waters swelled in Marcella 
swelled and broke. She fell on her knees again by her 
[ 357 ] 


mother, and before Mrs. Boyce could stop her she had 
thrown her young arms close round the thin, shrunken 

'Mother!' she said. 'Mother, be good to me love 
me you are all I have !' 

And she kissed the pale brow and cheek with a 
hungry, almost a violent tenderness that would not 
be gainsaid, murmuring wild, incoherent things. 

Mrs. Boyce first tried to put her away, then sub- 
mitted, being physically unable to resist, and at last 
escaped from her with a sudden sob that went to the 
girl's heart. She rose, went to the window, struggled 
hard for composure, and finally left the room. 

But that evening, for the first time, she let Marcella 
put her on the sofa, tend her, and read to her. More 
wonderful still, she went to sleep while Marcella was 
reading. In the lamplight her face looked piteously 
old and worn. The girl sat for long with her hands 
clasped round her knees, gazing down upon it, in a 
trance of pain and longing. 

Marcella was awake early next morning, listening 
to the full voice of the sea as it broke, three hundred 
feet below, against the beach and rocky walls of the 
little town. She was lying in a tiny white room, one 
of the cells of the old monastery, and the sun as it rose 
above the Salernian mountains the mountains that 
hold Paestum in their blue and purple shadows - 
danced in gold on the white wall. The bell of the cathe- 
dral far below tolled the hour. She supposed it must 
be six o'clock. Two hours more or so, and Lord Max- 
well's letter might be looked for. 

She lay and thought of it longed for it, and for 
[ 358 ] 


the time of answering it, with the same soreness that 
had marked all the dreams of a restless night. If she 
could only see her father's letter ! It was inconceivable 
that he should have mentioned her name in his plea. 
He might have appealed to the old friendship between 
the families. That was possible, and would have, at 
any rate, an appearance of decency. But who could 
answer for it or for him? She clasped her hands 
rigidly behind her head, her brows frowning, bending 
her mind with an intensity of will to the best means 
of assuring Aldous Raeburn that she and her mother 
would not encroach upon him. She had a perpetual 
morbid vision of herself as the pursuer, attacking him 
now through his friend, now through her father. Oh ! 
when would that letter come, and let her write her own. 

She tried to read, but in reality listened for every 
sound of awakening life in the hotel. When at last her 
mother's maid came in to call her, she sprang up with 
a start. 

'Deacon, are the letters come?' 

'There are two for your mother, Miss ; none for you/ 

Marcella threw on her dressing-gown, watched her 
opportunity, and slipped in to her mother, who oc- 
cupied a similar cell next door. Mrs. Boyce was sit- 
ting up in bed, with a letter before her, her pale blue 
eyes fixed absently on the far stretch of sea. 

She looked round with a start as Marcella entered. 
'The letter is to me, of course/ she said. 

Marcella read it breathlessly. 

Dear Mrs. Boyce, I have this morning received 
from your solicitor, Mr. French, a letter written by Mr. 
[ 359 ] 


Boyce to myself in November of last year. In it he 
asks me to undertake the office of executor, to which, 
I hear from Mr. French, he has named me in his will. 
Mr. French also inquires whether I shall be willing to 
act, and asks me to communicate with you. 

May I, then, venture to intrude upon you with 
these few words? Mr. Boyce refers in his touching 
letter to the old friendship between our families, and 
to the fact that similar offices have often been per- 
formed by his relations for mine, or vice versa. But no 
reminder of the kind was in the least needed. If I can 
be of any service to yourself and to Miss Boyce, 
neither your poor husband nor you could do me any 
greater kindness than to command me. 

I feel naturally some diffidence in the matter. I 
gather from Mr. French that Miss Boyce is her father's 
heiress, and comes at once into the possession of Mellor. 
She may not, of course, wish me to act, in which case 
I should withdraw immediately; but I sincerely trust 
that she will not forbid me the very small service I 
could so easily and gladly render. 

I cannot close my letter without venturing to ex- 
press the deep sympathy I have felt for you and yours 
during the past six months. I have been far from for- 
getful of all that you have been going through, though I 
may have seemed so. I trust that you and your daugh- 
ter will not hurry home for any business cause, if it is 
still best for your health to stay in Italy. With your in- 
structions Mr. French and I could arrange everything. 
Believe me, 

Yours most sincerely, 


[ 360 ] 


'You will find it difficult, my dear, to write a snub 
in answer to that letter/ said Mrs. Boyce, dryly, as 
Marcella laid it down. 

Marcella's face was, indeed, crimson with perplexity 
and feeling. 

'Well, we can think it over/ she said as she went 

Mrs. Boyce pondered the matter a good deal when 
she was left alone. The signs of reaction and change 
in Marcella were plain enough. What they precisely 
meant, and how much, was another matter. As to 
him, Marcella's idea of another attachment might 
be true, or might be merely the creation of her own 
irritable pride. Anyway, he was in the mood to write 
a charming letter. Mrs. Boyce 's blanched lip had all 
its natural irony as she thought it over. To her mind 
Aldous Raeburn's manners had always been a trifle 
too good, whether for his own interests or for this 
wicked world. And if he had any idea now of trying 
again, let him, for Heaven's sake, not be too yielding 
or too eager! 'It was always the way/ thought Mrs. 
Boyce, remembering a child in white frock and baby 
shoes 'if you wished to make her want anything, 
you had to take it away from her/ 

Meanwhile the mere thought that matters might 
even yet so settle themselves drew from the mother 
a long breath of relief. She had spent an all but sleep- 
less night, tormented by Marcella's claim upon her. 
After twenty years of self-suppression this woman of 
forty-five, naturally able, original, and independent, 
had seen a glimpse of liberty. In her first youth she 
had been betrayed as a wife, degraded as a member 
[ 361 ] 


of society. A passion she could not kill, combined 
with some stoical sense of inalienable obligation, had 
combined to make her both the slave and guardian 
of her husband up to middle life ; and her family and 
personal pride, so strong in her as a girl, had found 
its only outlet in this singular estrangement she had 
achieved between herself and every other living being, 
including her own daughter. Now her husband was 
dead, and all sorts of crushed powers and desires, 
mostly of the intellectual sort, had been strangely reviv- 
ing within her. Just emerged, as she was, from the long 
gloom of nursing, she already wished to throw it all be- 
hind her to travel, to read, to make acquaintances 
she who had lived as a recluse for twenty years ! There 
was in it a last clutch at youth, at life. And she had no 
desire to enter upon this new existence in comrade- 
ship with Marcella. They were independent and very 
different human beings. That they were mother and 
daughter was a mere physical accident. 

Moreover, though she was amply conscious of the 
fine development in Marcella during the past two 
years, it is probable that she felt her daughter even 
less congenial to her now than of old. For the rich, 
emotional nature had, as we have seen, ' suffered con- 
viction/ had turned in the broad sense to 'religion/ 
was more and more sensitive, especially since Hallin's 
death, to the spiritual things and symbols in the world. 
At Naples she had haunted churches; had read, as 
her mother knew, many religious books. 

Now Mrs. Boyce in these matters had a curious 
history. She had begun life as an ardent Christian, 
under Evangelical influences. Her husband, on the other 
[ 362 ] 


hand, at the time she married him was a man of purely 
sceptical opinions, a superficial disciple of Mill and 
Comte, and fond of an easy profanity which seemed to 
place him indisputably with the superior persons of 
this world. To the amazement and scandal of her 
friends, Evelyn Merritt had not been three months 
his wife before she had adopted his opinions en bloc, 
and was carrying them out to their logical ends with 
a sincerity and devotion quite unknown to her teacher. 
Thenceforward her conception of things of which, 
however, she- seldom spoke had been actively and 
even vehemently rationalist; and it had been one of 
the chief sorenesses and shames of her life at Mellor 
that, in order to suit his position as country squire, 
Richard Boyce had sunk to what, in her eyes, were a 
hundred mean compliances with things orthodox and 

Then, in his last illness, he had finally broken away 
from her. and his own past. 'Evelyn, I should like to 
see a clergyman/ he had said to her in his piteous voice, 
'and I shall ask him to give me the Sacrament.' She 
had made every arrangement accordingly; but her 
bitter soul could see nothing in the step but fear and 
hypocrisy; and he knew it. And as he lay talking 
alone with the man whom they had summoned, two 
or three nights before the end, she, sitting in the next 
room, had been conscious of a deep and smarting jeal- 
ousy. Had not the hard devotion of twenty years made 
him at least her own? And here was this black-coated 
reciter of incredible things stepping into her place. 
Only in death she recovered him wholly. No priest in- 
terfered while he drew his last breath upon her bosom. 
[ 363 ] 


And now Marcella! Yet the girl's voice and plea 
tugged at her withered heart. She felt a dread 
of unknown softnesses of being invaded and 
weakened by things in her akin to her daughter, and 
so captured afresh. Her mind fell upon the bare 
idea of a revival of the Maxwell engagement, and 
caressed it. 

Meanwhile Marcella stood dressing by the open win- 
dow in the sunlight, 'which filled the room with wavy 
reflexions caught from the sea. Fishing-boats were 
putting off from the beach, three hundred feet below 
her ; she could hear the grating of the keels, the songs 
of the boatmen. On the little breakwater to the right 
an artist's white umbrella shone in the sun ; and a half- 
naked boy, poised on the bows of a boat moored be- 
side the painter, stood bent in the eager attitude of 
one about to drop the bait into the blue wave below. 
His brown back burnt against the water. Cliff, houses, 
sea, glowed in warmth and light; the air was full of 
roses and orange-blossom ; and to an English sense had 
already the magic of summer. 

And Marcella' s hands, as she coiled and plaited her 
black hair, moved with a new lightness; for the first 
time since her father's death her look had its normal 
fire, crossed every now and then by something that 
made her all softness and all woman. No! as her 
mother said, one could not snub that letter or its 
writer. But how to answer it! In imagination she 
had already penned twenty different replies. How 
not to be grasping or effusive, and yet to show that 
you could feel and repay kindness there was the 
problem ! 

[ 364 ] 


Meanwhile, from that letter, or rather in subtle con- 
nexion with it, her thoughts at last went wandering 
off with a natural zest to her new realm of Mellor, and 
to all that she would and could do for the dwellers 


IT was a bleak east-wind day towards the end of 
March. Aldouswas at work in the library at the Court, 
writing at his grandfather's table, where in general he 
got through his estate and county affairs, keeping his 
old sitting-room upstairs for the pursuits that were 
more particularly his own. 

All the morning he had been occupied with a tedious 
piece of local business, wading through endless docu- 
ments concerning a dispute between the head-master 
of a neighbouring grammar-school and his governing 
body, of which Aldous was one. The affair was dif- 
ficult, personal, odious. To have wasted nearly three 
hours upon it was, to a man of Aldous's type, to have 
lost a day. Besides he had not his grandfather's knack 
in such things, and was abundantly conscious of it. 

However, there it was, a duty which none but he 
apparently could or would do, and he had been wrest- 
ling with it. With more philosophy than usual, too, 
since every tick of the clock behind him bore him 
nearer to an appointment which, whatever it might 
be, would not be tedious. 

At last he got up and went to the window to look 
at the weather. A cutting wind, clearly, but no rain. 
Then he walked into the drawing-room, calling for 
his aunt. No one was to be seen, either there or in 
the conservatory, and he came back to the library 
and rang. 

[ 366 ] 


'Roberts, has Miss Raeburn gone out?' 

'Yes, my lord/ said the old butler addressed. 'She 
and Miss Macdonald have gone out driving, and I 
was to tell your lordship that Miss Raeburn would 
drop Miss Macdonald at Mellor on her way home/ 

'Is Sir Frank anywhere about?' 

'He was in the smoking-room a little while ago, 
my lord/ 

'Will you please try and find him? 7 

'Yes, my lord/ 

Aldous's mouth twitched with impatience as the old 
servant shut the door. 

'How many times did Roberts manage to be-lord 
me in a minute?' he asked himself; 'yet if I were to 
remonstrate, I suppose I should only make him un- 

And walking again to the window, he thrust his 
hands into his pockets and stood looking out with a 
far from cheerful countenance. 

One of the things that most tormented him indeed 
in this recent existence was a perpetual pricking sense 
of the contrast between this small world of his ancestral 
possessions and traditions, with all its ceremonial and 
feudal usage, and the great rushing world outside it of 
action and of thought. Do what he would, he could 
not un-king himself within the limits of the Maxwell 
estate. To the people living upon it he was the man 
of most importance within their ken, was inevitably 
their potentate and earthly providence. He con- 
fessed that there was a real need of him, if he did his 
duty. But on this need the class practice of genera- 
tions had built up a deference, a sharpness of class 
[ 367 ] 


distinction, which any modern must find more and 
more irksome in proportion to his modernness. What 
was in Aldous's mind, as he stood with drawn brows 
looking out over the view which showed him most of 
his domain, was a sort of hot impatience of being made 
day by day, in a hundred foolish ways, to play at 

Yet, as we know, he was no democrat by conviction, 
had no comforting faith in what seemed to him the 
rule of a multitudinous ignorance. Still every sane 
man of to-day knows, at any rate, that the world has 
taken the road of democracy, and that the key to the 
future, for good or ill, lies not in the revolts and spec- 
ulations of the cultivated few, but in the men and 
movements that can seize the many. Aldous's temper 
was despondently critical towards the majority of 
these, perhaps; he had, constitutionally, little 
of that poet's sympathy with the crowd, as such, 
which had given Hallin his power. But, at any rate, 
they filled the human stage these men and move- 
ments and his mind as a beholder. Beside the great 
world-spectacle perpetually in his eye and thought, 
the small old-world pomps and feudalisms of his own 
existence had a way of looking ridiculous to him. He 
constantly felt himself absurd. It was ludicrously 
clear to him, for instance, that in this kingdom he 
had inherited it would be thought a huge condescen- 
sion on his part if he were to ask the secretary of the 
trades-union to dine with him at the Court. Whereas, 
in his own honest opinion, the secretary had a far 
more important and interesting post in the universe 
than he. 

[ 368 ] 


So that, in spite of a strong love of family, rigidly 
kept to himself, he had very few of the illusions which 
make rank and wealth delightful. On the other hand, 
he had a tyrannous sense of obligation, which kept him 
tied to his place and his work to such work as he 
had been spending the morning on. This sense of 
obligation had for the present withdrawn him from 
any very active share in politics. He had come to the 
conclusion early in the year, just about the time when, 
owing to some rearrangements in the personnel of the 
Government, the Premier had made him some ex- 
tremely flattering overtures, that he must for the 
present devote himself to the Court. There were ex- 
tensive changes and reforms going on in different parts 
of the estate : some of the schools which he owned and 
mainly supported were being rebuilt and enlarged; 
and he had a somewhat original scheme for the ex- 
tension of adult education throughout the property 
very much on his mind a scheme which must be 
organised and carried through by himself apparently, 
if it was to thrive at all. 

Much of this business was very dreary to him, some 
of it altogether distasteful. Since the day of his part- 
ing with Marcella Boyce his only real pleasures had 
lain in politics or books. Politics, just as they were 
growing absorbing to him, must, for a while at any 
rate, be put aside; and even books had not fared as 
well as they might have been expected to do in the 
country quiet. Day after day he walked or rode about 
the muddy lanes of the estate, doing the work that 
seemed to him to be his, as best he could, yet never 
very certain of its value ; rather, spending his thoughts 
[ 369 ] 


more and more, with regard to his own place and 
function in the world, on a sort of mental apologetic 
which was far from stimulating; sorely conscious the 
while of the unmatched charm and effectiveness with 
which his grandfather had gone about the same busi- 
ness ; and as lonely at heart as a man can well be - 
the wound of love unhealed, the wound of friend- 
ship still deep and unconsoled. To bring social peace 
and progress, as he understood them, to this bit of 
Midland England a man of first-rate capacities was 
perhaps sacrificing what ambition would have called 
his opportunities. Yet neither was he a hero to him- 
self nor to the Buckinghamshire farmers and yokels 
who depended on him. They had liked the grand- 
father better, and had become stolidly accustomed to 
the grandson's virtues. 

The only gleam in the grey of his life, since he had 
determined about Christmas-time to settle down at 
the Court, had come from Mr. French's letter. That 
letter, together with Mr. Boyce's posthumous note, 
which contained nothing, indeed, but a skilful appeal 
to neighbourliness and old family friendship, written 
in the best style of the ex-Balkan Commissioner, had 
naturally astonished him greatly. He saw at once 
what she would perceive in it, and turned impatiently, 
from speculation as to what Mr. Boyce might actually 
have meant, to the infinitely more important matter, 
how she would take her father's act. Never had he 
written anything with greater anxiety than he devoted 
to his letter to Mrs. Boyce. There was in him now a 
craving he could not stay, to be brought near to her 
again, to know how her life was going. It had first 
[ 370 ] 


raised its head in him since he knew that her existence 
and Wharton's were finally parted, and had but gath- 
ered strength from the self-critical loneliness and 
tedium of these later months. 

Mrs. Boyce's reply, couched in terms at once stately 
and grateful, which accepted his offer of service on 
her own and her daughter's behalf, had given him 
extraordinary pleasure. He turned it over again and 
again, wondering what part or lot Marcella might have 
had in it, attributing to her this cordiality or that 
reticence; picturing the two women together in their 
black dresses the hotel, the pergola, the cliff all 
of which he himself knew well. Finally, he went up to 
town, saw Mr. French, and acquainted himself with 
the position and prospects of the Mellor estate, feel- 
ing himself a sort of intruder, yet curiously happy in 
the business. It was wonderful what that poor sickly 
fellow had been able to do in the last two years ; yet 
his thoughts fell rather into amused surmise as to 
what she would find it in her restless mind to do in 
the next two years. 

Nevertheless, all the time, the resolution 'of which 
he had spoken to Hallin seemed to himself unshaken. 
He recognised and adored the womanly growth and 
deepening which had taken place in her; he saw that 
she wished to show him kindness. But he thought he 
could trust himself now and henceforward not to force 
upon her a renewed suit for which there was in his 
eyes no real or abiding promise of happiness. 

Marcella and her mother had now been at home 
some three or four days, and he was just about to walk 
over to Mellor for his first interview with them. A 
[ 371 ] 


great deal of the merely formal business consequent 
on Mr. Boyce's death had been already arranged by 
himself and Mr. French. Yet he had to consult Mar- 
cella as to certain investments, and in a pleasant 
though quite formal little note he had that morning 
received from her she had spoken of asking his advice 
as to some new plans for the estate. It was the first 
letter she herself had as yet written to him ; hitherto 
all his correspondence had been carried on with Mrs. 
Boyce. It had struck him, by the way, as remarkable 
that there was no mention of the wife in the will. 
He could only suppose that she was otherwise pro- 
vided for. But there had been some curious expres- 
sions in her letters. 

Where was Frank? Aldous looked impatiently at 
the clock, as Roberts did not reappear. He had invited 
Leven to walk with him to Mellor, and the tiresome 
boy was apparently not to be found. Aldous vowed 
he would not wait a minute, and going into the hall, 
put on coat and hat with most business-like rapidity. 

He was just equipped when Roberts, somewhat 
breathless with long searching, arrived in time to say 
that Sir Frank was on the front terrace. 

And there Aldous caught sight of the straight though 
somewhat heavily built figure, in its grey suit with 
the broad band of black across the arm. 

' Hullo, Frank ! I thought you were to look me up 
in the library. Roberts has been searching the house 
for you/ 

'You said nothing about the library/ said the boy, 
rather sulkily, 'and Roberts had n't far to search. I 
have been in the smoking-room till this minute/ 
[ 372 ] 


Aldous did not argue the point, and they set out. It 
was presently clear to the elder man that his com- 
panion was not in the best of tempers. The widowed 
Lady Leven had sent her firstborn over to the Court 
for a few days that Aldous might have some discus- 
sion as to his immediate future with the young man. 
She was a silly, frivolous woman; but it was clear, 
even to her, that Frank was not doing very well for 
himself in the world ; and advice she would not have 
taken from her son's Oxford tutor seemed cogent to 
her when it came from a Raeburn. 'Do at least, for 
goodness' sake, get him to give up his absurd plan of 
going to America!' she wrote to Aldous; 'if he can't 
take his degree at Oxford, I suppose he must get on 
without it, and certainly his dons seem very unpleas- 
ant. But at least he might stay at home and do his 
duty to me and his sisters till he marries, instead of 
going off to the " Rockies" or some other ridiculous 
place. He really never seems to think of Fanny and 
Rachel, or what he might do to help me to get them 
settled, now that his poor father is gone.' 

No; certainly the young man was not much oc- 
cupied with 'Fanny and Rachel!' He spoke with ill- 
concealed impatience, indeed, of both his sisters and 
his mother. If his people would get in the way of 
everything he wanted to do, they need n't wonder if 
he cut up rough at home. For the present it was 
settled that he should at any rate go back to Oxford 
till the end of the summer term Aldous heartily 
pitying the unfortunate dons who might have to do 
with him but after that he entirely declined to be 
bound. He swore he would not be tied at home like 
[ 373 ] 


a girl; he must and would see the world. This in 
itself, from a lad who had been accustomed to regard 
his home as the centre of all delights, and had on 
two occasions stoutly refused to go with his family 
to Rome, lest he should miss the best month for his 
father's trout-stream, was sufficiently surprising. 

However, of late some tardy light had been dawn- 
ing upon Aldous ! The night after Frank's arrival at 
the Court Betty Macdonald came down to spend a 
few weeks with Miss Raeburn, being for the moment 
that lady's particular pet and protegee. Frank, whose 
sulkiness during the twenty-four hours before she 
appeared had been the despair of both his host and 
hostess, brightened up spasmodically when he heard 
she was expected, and went fishing with one of the 
keepers, on the morning before her arrival, with a fair 
imitation of his usual spirits. But somehow, since that 
first evening, though Betty had chattered, and danced, 
and frolicked her best, though her little figure run- 
ning up and down the big house gave a new zest to 
life in it, Frank's manners had gone from bad to worse. 
And at last Aldous, who had not as yet seen the two 
much together, and was never an observant man in 
such matters, had begun to have an inkling. Was it 
possible that the boy was in love, and with Betty? 
He sounded Miss Raeburn; found that she did not 
rise to his suggestion at all was, in fact, annoyed 
by it and with the usual stupidity of the clever man 
failed to draw any reasonable inference from the queer- 
ness of his aunt's looks and sighs. 

As to the little minx herself, she was inscrutable. 
She teased them all in turns, Frank, perhaps, less than 
[ 374 ] 


the others. Aldous, as usual, found her a delightful 
companion. She would walk all over the estate with him 
in the most mannish garments and boots conceivable, 
which only made her childish grace more feminine and 
more provocative than ever. She took an interest in 
all his tenants; she dived into all his affairs; she in- 
sisted on copying his letters. And meanwhile, on 
either side were Miss Raeburn, visibly recovering day 
by day her old cheeriness and bustle, and Frank - 
Frank, who ate nothing, or nothing commensurate to 
his bulk, and, if possible, said less. 

Aldous had begun to feel that the situation must be 
probed somehow, and had devised this walk, indeed, 
with some vague intention of plying remonstrances 
and inquiries. He had an old affection for the boy, 
which Lady Leven had reckoned upon. 

The first difficulty, of course, was to make him talk 
at all. Aldous tried various sporting 'gambits' with 
very small success. At last, by good luck, the boy rose 
to something like animation in describing an encounter 
he had had the week before with a piebald weasel in 
the course of a morning's ferreting. 

'All at once we saw the creature's head poke out 
of the hole pure white, with a brown patch on it. 
When it saw us, back it scooted ! and we sent in an- 
other ferret after the one that was there already. My 
goodness ! there was a shindy down in the earth you 
could hear them rolling and kicking like anything. 
We had our guns ready but all of a sudden every- 
thing stopped not a sound or a sign of anything ! 
We threw down our guns and dug away like blazes. 
Presently we came on the two ferrets gorging away 
[ 375 ] 


at a dead rabbit nasty little beasts! that ac- 
counted for them; but where on earth was the weasel? 
I really began to think we had imagined the creature, 
when, whish ! came a flash of white lightning, and out 
the thing bolted pure white with a splash of brown 

its winter coat, of course. I shot at it, but it was 
no go. If I'd only put a bag over the hole, and not 
been an idiot, I should have caught it.' 

The boy swung along, busily ruminating for a min- 
ute or two, and forgetting his trouble. 

'I've seen one something like it before,' he went on 

'ages ago, when I was a little chap, and Harry 
Wharton and I were out rabbiting. By the way' 
he stopped short 'do you see that fellow's come 

'I saw the paragraph in the Times this morning/ 
said Aldous, dryly. 

'And I've got a letter from Fanny this morning, to 
say that he and Lady Selina are to be married in July, 
and that she's going about making a martyr and a 
saint of him, talking of the ''persecution" he's had 
to put up with, and the vulgar fellows who could n't 
appreciate him, and generally making an ass of her- 
self. Oh ! he won't ask any of us to his wedding 
trust him. It is a rum business. You know Willie 
Ffolliot that queer dark fellow that used to be 
in the 10th Hussars did all those wild things in 
the Soudan?' 

'Yes slightly.' 

'I heard all about it from him. He was one of that 
gambling set at Harry's club there's been all that talk 
about you know, since Harry came to grief. Well ! 
[ 376 ] 


he was going along Piccadilly one night last summer, 
quite late, between eleven and twelve, when Harry 
caught hold of him from behind. Willie thought he 
was out of his mind or drunk. He told me he never saw 
anybody in such a queer state in his life. " You come 
along with me," said Harry, "come and talk to me, 
or I shall shoot myself!" So Willie asked him what 
was up. "I'm engaged to be married," said Harry. 
Whereupon Willie remarked that, considering his man- 
ner and his appearance, he was sorry for the young 
lady. " Young!" said Harry, as though he would have 
knocked him down. And then it came out that he had 
just that moment ! engaged himself to Lady 
Selina. And it was the very same day that he got into 
that precious mess in the House the very same night! 
I suppose he went to her to be comforted, and thought 
he'd pull something off, anyway ! Why she took him ! 
But of course she's no chicken, and old Alresford may 
die any day. And about the bribery business I sup- 
pose he made her think him an injured innocent. Any- 
way, he talked to Willie, when they got to his rooms, 
like a raving lunatic, and you know he was always such 
a cool hand. "Ffolliot," he said, "can you come with 
me to Siam next week?" "How much?" said Will. 
"I thought you were engaged to Lady Selina." Then 
he swore little oaths, and vowed he had told her he 
must have a year. "We'll go and explore those tem- 
ples in Siam," he said, and then he muttered some- 
thing about "Why should I ever come back?" Pre- 
sently he began to talk of the strike and the paper 
- and the bribe, and all the rest of it, making out a 
long rigmarole story. Oh! of course he'd done every- 
[ 377 ] 


thing for the best trust him ! and everybody else 
was a cur and a slanderer. And Ffolliot declared he 
felt quite pulpy the man was such a wreck ; and he 
said he'd go with him to Siam, or anywhere else, if 
he'd only cheer up. And they got out the maps, and 
Harry began to quiet down, and at last Will got him 
to bed. Fanny says Ffolliot reports he had great dif- 
ficulty in dragging him home. However, Lady Selina 
has no luck ! there he is.' 

1 Oh ! he will be one of the shining lights of our side 
before long,' said Aldous, with resignation. 'Since he 
gave up his seat here, there has been some talk of find- 
ing him one in the Alresfords' neighbourhood, I be- 
lieve. But I don't suppose anybody's very anxious for 
him. He is to address a meeting, I see, on the Tory 
Labour Programme next week. The Clarion, I sup- 
pose, will go round with him.' 

1 Beastly rag!' said Frank, fervently. 'It's rather a 
queer thing, is n't it, that such a clever chap as that 
should have made such a mess of his chances. It al- 
most makes one not mind being a fool.' 

He laughed, but bitterly, and at the same moment 
the cloud that for some twenty minutes or so seemed 
to have completely rolled away descended again on 
eye and expression. 

'Well, there are worse things than being a fool/ said 
Aldous, with insidious emphasis 'sulking, and shut- 
ting up with your best friends, for instance/ 

Frank flushed deeply, and turned upon him with 
a sort of uncertain fury. 

' I don't know what you mean/ 

Whereupon Aldous slipped his arm inside the boy's, 
[ 378 ] 


and prepared himself with resignation for the scene 
that had to be got through somehow, when Frank 
suddenly exclaimed : 

'I say, there's Miss Boyce!' 

Never was a man more quickly and completely 
recalled from altruism to his own affairs. Aldous 
dropped his companion's arm, straightened himself 
with a thrill of the whole being, and saw Marcella some 
distance ahead of them in the Mellor drive, which they 
had just entered. She was stooping over something 
on the ground, and was not apparently aware of their 
approach. A ray of cold sun came out at the moment, 
touched the bending figure and the grass at her feet 
grass starred with primroses, which she was gathering. 

' I did n't know you were going to call,' said Frank, 
bewildered. 'Is n't it too soon?' 

And he looked at his companion in astonishment. 

' I came to speak to Miss Boyce and her mother on 
business,' said Aldous, with all his habitual reserve. 
' I thought you would n't mind the walk back by your- 

'Business?' the boy echoed involuntarily. 

Aldous hesitated, then said quietly : 

'Mr. Boyce appointed me executor under his will.' 

Frank lifted his eyebrows, and allowed himself at 
least an inward 'By Jove!' 

By this time Marcella had caught sight of them, and 
was advancing. She was in deep mourning, but her 
hands were full of primroses, which shone against the 
black ; and the sun, penetrating the thin green of some 
larches to her left, danced in her eyes and on a face 
full of sensitive and beautiful expression. 
[ 379 ] 


They had not met since they stood together beside 
Hallin's grave. This fact was in both their minds. 
Aldous felt it, as it were, in the touch of her hand. 
What he could not know was, that she was thinking 
quite as much of his letter to her mother and its 

They stood talking a little in the sunshine. Then, 
as Frank was taking his leave, Marcella said : 

'Won't you wait for for Lord Maxwell, in the old 
library? We can get at it from the garden, and I have 
made it quite habitable. My mother, of course, does 
not wish to see anybody/ 

Frank hesitated, then, pushed by a certain boyish 
curiosity, and by the angry belief that Betty had been 
carried off by Miss Raeburn, and was out of his reach 
till luncheon-time, said he would wait. Marcella led 
the way, opened the garden-door of the lower corridor, 
close to the spot where she had seen Wharton standing 
in the moonlight on a never-to-be-forgotten night, and 
then ushered them into the library. The beautiful old 
place had been decently repaired, though in no sense 
modernised. The roof had no holes, and its delicate 
stucco-work, formerly stained and defaced by damp, 
had been whitened, so that the brown and golden 
tones of the books in the latticed cases told against 
it with delightful effect. The floor was covered with 
a cheap matting, and there were a few simple chairs 
and tables. A wood-fire burnt on the old hearth. Mar- 
cella's books and work lay about, and some shallow 
earthenware pans filled with home-grown hyacinths 
scented the air. What with the lovely architecture of 
the room itself, its size, its books and old portraits, and 
[ 380 ] 


the signs it bore of simple yet refined use, it would 
have been difficult to find a gentler, mellower place. 
Aldous looked round him with delight. 

'I hope to make a village drawing-room of it in 
time/ she said casually to Frank as she stooped to put 
a log on the fire. ' I think we shall get them to come, 
as it has a separate door, and scraper, and mat all to 

'Goodness!' said Frank, 'they won't come. It's too 
far from the village.' 

'Don't you be so sure,' said Marcella, laughing. 
'Mr. Craven has all sorts of ideas.' 

'Who's Mr. Craven?' 

'Did n't you meet him at my rooms?' 

'Oh! I remember,' ejaculated the boy 'a fright- 
ful Socialist!' 

'And his wife's worse,' said Marcella, merrily. 
'They've come down to settle here. They're going to 
help me.' 

'Then for mercy's sake keep them to yourself,' cried 
Frank, 'and don't let them go loose over the country. 
We don't want them at our place.' 

'Oh! your turn will come. Lord Maxwell' --her 
tone changed became shy and a little grave 'shall 
we go into the Stone Parlour? My mother will come 
down if you wish to see her, but she thought that - 
that perhaps we could settle things.' 

Aldous had been standing by, hat in hand, watch- 
ing her as she chattered to Frank. As she addressed 
him he gave a little start. 

' Oh ! I think we can settle everything,' he said. 

'Well, this is rum!' said Frank to himself, as the 
[ 381 ] 


door closed behind them, and instead of betaking him- 
self to the chair and the newspaper with which Marcella 
had provided him, he began to walk excitedly up and 
down. ' Her father makes him executor he manages 
her .property for her and they behave nicely to each 
other, as though nothing had ever happened at all. 
What the deuce does it mean? And all the time Betty 
why, Betty's devoted to him! and it's as plain as 
a pikestaff what that old cat, Miss Raeburn, is think- 
ing of from morning till night ! Well, I 'm beat ! ' 

And throwing himself down on a stool by the fire, 
his chin between his hands, he stared dejectedly at 
the burning logs. 


MEANWHILE Marcella and her companion were sit- 
ting in the Stone Parlour side by side, save for a small 
table between them, which held the various papers 
Aldous had brought with him. At first, there had been 
on her side as soon as they were alone a feeling 
of stifling embarrassment. All the painful, proud 
sensations with which she had received the news of 
her father's action returned upon her; she would have 
liked to escape; she shrank from what once more 
seemed an encroachment, a situation as strange as it 
was embarrassing. 

But his manner very soon made it impossible, in- 
deed ridiculous, to maintain such an attitude of mind. 
He ran through his business with his usual clearness 
and rapidity. It was not complicated; her views 
proved to be the same as his ; and she was empowered 
to decide for her mother. Aldous took notes of one or 
two of her wishes, left some papers with her for- her 
mother's signature, and then his work was practically 
done. Nothing, throughout, could have been more re- 
assuring or more everyday than his demeanour. 

Then, indeed, when the end of their business inter- 
view approached, and with it the opportunity for 
conversation of a different kind, both were conscious 
of a certain tremor. To him this old parlour was tor- 
turingly full of memories. In this very place where 
they sat he had given her his mother's pearls, and 
[ 383 ] 


taken a kiss in return from the cheek that was once 
more so near to him. With what free and exquisite 
curves the hair set about the white brow ! How beauti- 
ful was the neck the hand ! What ripened, softened 
charm in every movement ! The touching and rebuking 
thought rose in his mind that from her nursing ex- 
perience, and its frank contact with the ugliest realities 
of the physical life a contact he had often shrunk 
from realising there had come to her, not so much 
added strength, as a new subtlety and sweetness, some 
delicate^ vibrating quality, that had been entirely lack- 
ing to her first splendid youth. 

Suddenly she said to him, with a certain hesitation : 

'There was one more point I wanted to speak to 
you about. Can you advise me about selling some of 
those railway shares?' 

She pointed to an item in a short list of investments 
that lay beside them. 

'But why?' said Aldous, surprised. 'They are ex- 
cellent property already, and are going up in value/ 

'Yes, I know. But I want some ready money 
immediately more than we have to spend on cot- 
tage-building in the village. I saw a builder yesterday 
and came to a first understanding with him. We are 
altering the water-supply too. They have begun upon 
it already, and it will cost a good deal/ 

Aldous was still puzzled. 

' I see/ he said. ' But don't you suppose that the 
income of the estate, now that your father has done so 
much to free it, will be enough to meet expenses of 
that kind, without trenching on investments? A cer- 
tain amount, of course, should be systematically laid 
[ 384 ] 


aside every year for rebuilding, and estate improve- 
ments generally.' 

' Yes ; but you see I only regard half of the income as 

She looked up with a little smile. 

He was now standing in front of her, against the fire, 
his grey eyes, which could be, as she well knew, so cold 
and inexpressive, bent upon her with eager interest. 

'Only half the income?' he repeated. 'Ah!' --he 
smiled kindly 'is that an arrangement between you 
and your mother?' 

Marcella let her hand fall with a little despairing 

'Oh no ! ' she said 'oh no ! Mamma mamma 
will take nothing from me or from the estate. She has 
her own money and she will live with me part of the. 

The intonation in the words touched Aldous pro- 

'Part of the year?' he said, astonished, yet not 
knowing how to question her. 'Mrs. Boyce will not 
make Mellor her home?' 

'She would be thankful if she had never seen it,' 
said Marcella, quickly 'and she would never see 
it again if it were n't for me. It's dreadful what she 
went through last year, when when I was in Lon- 

Her voice fell. Glancing up at him involuntarily, 
her eye looked with dread for some chill, some stiffen- 
ing in him. Probably he condemned her, had always 
condemned her for deserting her home and her parents. 
But instead she saw nothing but sympathy. 
[ 385 ] 


'Mrs. Boyce has had a hard life/ he said, with grave 

Marcella felt a tear leap, and furtively raised her 
handkerchief to brush it away. Then, with a natural 
selfishness, her quick thought took another turn. A 
wild yearning rose in her mind to tell him much more 
than she had ever done in old days of the miserable 
home circumstances of her early youth ; to lay stress 
on the mean unhappiness which had depressed her 
own child-nature whenever she was with her parents, 
and had withered her mother's character. Secretly, 
passionately, she often made the past an excuse. 
Excuse for what? For the lack of delicacy and loyalty, 
of the best sort of breeding, which had marked the 
days of her engagement? 

Never never to speak of it with him ! to pour 
out everything to ask him to judge, to understand, 
to forgive ! - 

She pulled herself together by a strong effort, re- 
minding herself in a flash of all that divided them : 
of womanly pride of Betty Macdonald's presence 
at the Court of that vain confidence to Hallin, of 
which her inmost being must have been ashamed, but 
that something calming and sacred stole upon her 
whenever she thought of Hallin, lifting everything 
concerned with him into a category of its own. 

No ; let her selfish weakness make no fettering claim 
upon the man before her. Let her be content with 
the friendship she had, after all, achieved, that was 
now doing its kindly best for her. 

All these images, like a tumultuous procession, ran 
through the mind in a moment. He thought, as she 
[ 386 ] 


sat there with her bent head, the hands clasped round 
the knee in the way he knew so well, that she was full 
of her mother, and found it difficult to put what she 
felt into words. 

'But tell me about your plan/ he said, gently, 'if 
you will/ 

' Oh ! it is nothing/ she said, hurriedly. ' I am afraid 
you will think it impracticable perhaps wrong. It's 
only this: you see, as there is no one depending on 
me as I am practically alone it seemed to me 
I might make an experiment. Four thousand a year 
is a great deal more than I need ever spend than 
I ought, of course, to spend on myself. I don't think 
altogether what I used to think. I mean to keep up 
this house to make it beautiful, to hand it on, per- 
haps more beautiful than I found it, to those that come 
after. And I mean to maintain enough service in it 
both to keep it in order and to make it a social centre 
for all the people about for everybody of all classes, 
so far as I can. I want it to be a place of amusement 
and delight and talk to us all especially to the very 
poor. After all' - - her cheek flushed under the quick- 
ening of her thought 'everybody on the estate, in 
their different degree, has contributed to this house, 
in some sense, for generations. I want it to come into 
their lives to make it their possession, their pride 
- as well as mine. But then that is n't all. The peo- 
ple here can enjoy nothing, use nothing, till they have 
a worthier life of their own. Wages here, you know, 
are terribly low, much lower' --she added timidly - 
'than with you. They are, as a rule, eleven or twelve 
shillings a week. Now there seem to be about one 
[ 387 ] 


hundred and sixty labourers on the estate altogether, 
in the farmers' employment and in our own. Some, 
of course, are boys, and some old men earning a half- 
wage. Mr. Craven and I have worked it out, and we 
find that an average weekly increase of five shillings 
per head which would give the men of full age and 
in full work about a pound a week would work out 
at about two thousand a year.' 

She paused a moment, trying to put her further 
statement into its best order. 

'Your farmers, you know/ he said, smiling, after a 
pause, 'will be your chief difficulty/ 

'Of course! But I thought of calling a meeting of 
them. I have discussed it with Mr. French of course 
he thinks me mad ! but he gave me some advice. I 
should propose to them all fresh leases, with certain 
small advantages that Louis Craven thinks would 
tempt them, at a reduced rental exactly answering to 
the rise in wages. Then, in return they must accept 
a sort of fair-wage clause, binding them to pay hence- 
forward the standard wage of the estate.' 

She looked up, her face expressing urgent though 
silent interrogation. 

'You must remember,' he said, quickly, 'that though 
the estate is recovering, and rents have been fairly 
paid about here during the last eighteen months, you 
may be called upon at any moment to make the re- 
ductions which hampered your uncle. These reduc- 
tions will, of course, fall upon you as before, seeing 
that the farmers, in a different way, will be paying as 
much as before. Have you left margin enough?' 

' I think so/ she said, eagerly. ' I shall live here very 
[ 388 ] 


simply, and accumulate all the reserve fund I can. I 
have set all my heart upon it. I know there are not 
many people could do such a thing other obliga- 
tions would, must, come first. And it may turn out a 
mistake. But whatever happens whatever any 
of us, Socialists or not, may hope for in the future - 
here one is with one's conscience, and one's money, 
and these people, who like one's self have but the one 
life! In all labour, it is the modern question, is n't it? 
how much of the product of labour the workman 
can extract from the employer? About here there is no 
union to act for the labourers they have practically 
no power. But.w the future, we must surely hope they 
will combine, that they will be stronger strong 
enough to force a decent wage. What ought to pre- 
vent my free will anticipating a moment since I can 
do it that we all want to see?' 

She spoke with a strong feeling ;but his ear detected a 
new note something deeper and wistfuller than of old. 

' Well as you say, you are for experiments ! ' he 
replied, not finding it easy to produce his own judge- 
ment quickly. Then, in another tone ' It was always 
Hallin's cry/ 

She glanced up at him, her lips trembling. 

' I know. Do you remember how he used to say - 
"The big changes may come the big Collectivist 
changes. But neither you nor I will see them. I pray 
not to see them. Meanwhile all still hangs upon, 
comes back to, the individual. Here are you with 
your money and power ; there are those men and wo- 
men whom you can share with in new and honour- 
able ways to-day." 

[ 389 ] 


Then she checked herself suddenly. 

' But now I want you to tell me will you tell me? 
- all the objections you see. You must have often 
thought such things over/ 

She was looking nervously straight before her. She 
did not see the flash of half-bitter, half-tender irony 
that crossed his face. Her tone of humility, of appeal, 
was so strange to him, remembering the past. 

1 Yes, very often,' he answered. 'Well, I think these 
are the kind of arguments you will have to meet/ 

He went through the objections that any economist 
would be sure to weigh against a proposal of the kind, 
as clearly as he could, and at some length but with- 
out zest. What affected Marcella all through was not 
so much the matter of what he said as the manner of 
it. It was so characteristic of the two voices in him - 
the voice of the idealist checked and mocked always 
by the voice of the observer and the student. A year 
before, the little harangue would have set her aflame 
with impatience and wrath. Now, beneath the speaker, 
she felt and yearned towards the man. 

Yet, as to the scheme, when all demurs were made, 
she was 'of the same opinion still'! His arguments 
were not new to her; the inward eagerness overrode 

' In my own case' - - he said at last, the tone passing 
instantly into reserve and shyness, as always happened 
when he spoke of himself 'my own wages are two 
or three shillings higher than those paid generally by 
the farmers on the estate ; and we have a pension fund. 
But so far, I have felt the risks of any wholesale disturb- 
ance of labour on the estate, depending, as it must 
[ 390 ] 


entirely in my case, on the individual life and will, to 
be too great to let me go further. I sometimes believe 
that it is the farmers who would really benefit most 
by experiments of the kind ! ' 

She protested vehemently, being at the moment, of 
course, not at all in love with mankind in general, 
but only with those members of mankind who came 
within the eye of imagination. He was enchanted to 
see the old self come out again positive, obstinate, 
generous ; to see the old confident pose of the head, the 
dramatic ease of gesture. 

Meanwhile something that had to be said, that must, 
indeed, be said, if he were to give her serious and 
official advice, pressed uncomfortably on his tongue. 

'You know/ he said, not looking at her, when at 
last she had for the moment exhausted argument and 
prophecy, 'you have to think of those who will suc- 
ceed you here ; still more you have to think of mar- 
riage before you pledge yourself to the halving of 
your income.' 

Now he must needs look at her intently, out of sheer 
nervousness. The difficulty he had had in compelling 
himself to make the speech at all had given a certain 
hardness and stiffness to his voice. She felt a sudden 
shock and chill resented what he had dismally felt 
to be an imperative duty. 

' I do not think I have any need to think of it in 
this connexion/ she said, proudly. And getting up, 
she began to gather her papers together. 

The spell was broken, the charm gone. He felt that 
he was dismissed. 

With a new formality and silence, she led the way 
[ 391 ] 


into the hall, he following. As they neared the library 
there was a sound of voices. 

Marcella opened the door in surprise, and there, on 
either side of the fire, sat Betty Macdonald and Frank 

'That's a mercy!' cried Betty, running forward to 
Marcella and kissing her. 'I really don't know what 
would have happened if Mr. Leven and I had been left 
alone any longer. As for the Kilkenny cats, my dear, 
don't mention them !' 

The child was flushed and agitated, and there was 
an angry light in her blue eyes. Frank looked simply 
lumpish and miserable. 

'Yes, here I am,' said Betty, holding Marcella, and 
chattering as fast as possible. 'I made Miss Raeburn 
bring me over, that I might just catch a sight of you. 
She would walk home, and leave the carriage for me. 
Isn't it like all the topsy-turvy things nowadays? 
When I'm her age I suppose I shall have gone back 
to dolls. Please to look at those ponies ! they 're paw- 
ing your gravel to bits. And as for my watch, just in- 
spect it!' --she thrust it reproachfully under Mar- 
cella's eyes. 'You've been such a time in there talk- 
ing that Sir Frank and I have had time to quarrel for 
life, and there is n't a minute left for anything rational. 
Oh ! good-bye, my dear, good-bye. I never kept Miss 
Raeburn waiting for lunch yet, did I, Mr. Aldous? and 
I must n't begin now. Come along, Mr. Aldous ! You'll 
have to come home with me. I 'm frightened to death 
of those ponies. You shan't drive, but if they bolt, 
I'll give them to you to pull in. Dear, dear Marcella, 
let me come again soon directly !' 
[ 392 ] 


A few more sallies and kisses, a few more angry 
looks at Frank and appeals to Aldous, who was much 
less responsive than usual, and the child was seated, 
very erect and rosy, on the driving-seat of the little 
pony-carriage, with Aldous beside her. 

'Are you coming, Frank?' said Aldous; 'there's 
plenty of room/ 

His strong brow had a pucker of annoyance. As he 
spoke he looked, not at Frank, but at Marcella. She 
was standing a trifle back, among the shadows of the 
doorway, and her attitude conveyed to him an 
impression of proud aloofness. A sigh that was 
half pain, half resignation, passed his lips un- 

'Thank you, I'll walk/ said Frank, fiercely. 

'Now, will you please explain to me why you look 
like that, and talk like that?' said Marcella, with cut- 
ting composure, when she was once more in the library, 
and Frank, crimson to the roots of his hair, and say- 
ing incoherent things, had followed her there. 

'I should think you might guess,' said Frank, in 
reproachful misery, as he hung over the fire. 

' Not at all ! ' said Marcella ; ' you are rude to Betty, 
and disagreeable to me, by which I suppose that you 
are unhappy. But why should you be allowed to show 
your feelings, when other people don't?' 

Frank fairly groaned. 

'Well,' he said, making efforts at a tragic calm, and 
looking for his hat, 'you will, none of you, be troubled 
with me long. I shall go home to-morrow, and take 
my ticket for California the day after.' 
[ 393 ] 


'You,' said Marcella, 'go to California! What right 
have you to go to California?' 

'What right?' Frank stared; then he went on im- 
petuously. 'If a girl torments a man, as Betty has 
been tormenting me, there is nothing for it, I should 
think, but to clear out of the way. I am going to clear 
out of the way, whatever anybody says/ 

'And shoot big game, I suppose amuse yourself 
somehow? ' 

Frank hesitated. 

'Well, a fellow can't do nothing/ he said, helplessly. 
' I suppose I shall shoot/ 

'And what right have you to do it? Have you any 
more right than a public official would have to spend 
public money in neglecting his duties?' 

Frank stared at her. 

'Well, I don't know what you mean,' he said at last, 
angrily; 'give it up/ 

' It's quite simple what I mean. You have inherited 
your father's property. Your tenants pay you rent, 
that comes from their labour. Are you going to make 
no return for your income, and your house, and your 

'Ah ! that's your Socialism!' cried the young fellow, 
roused by her tone. 'No return? Why, they have the 

'If I were a thorough-going Socialist,' said Marcella, 
steadily, 'I should say to you, Go! The sooner you 
throw off all ties to your property, the sooner you 
prove to the world that you and your class are mere 
useless parasites, the sooner we shall be rid of you. 
But unfortunately I am not such a good Socialist as 
[ 394 ] 


that. I waver I am not sure of what I wish. But 
one thing I am sure of, that unless people like you 
are going to treat their lives as a profession, to take 
their calling seriously, there are no more superfluous 
drones, no more idle plunderers than you, in all civil- 
ised society!' 

Was she pelting him in this way that she might so 
get rid of some of her own inner smart and restless- 
ness? If so, the unlucky Frank could not guess it. 
He could only feel himself intolerably ill-used. He had 
meant to pour himself out to her on the subject of 
Betty and his woes, and here she was rating him as to 
his duties, of which he had hardly as yet troubled him- 
self to think, being entirely taken up either with his 
grievances or his enjoyments. 

'I'm sure you know you are talking nonsense/ he 
said, sulkily, though he shrank from meeting her fiery 
look. 'And if I am idle, there are plenty of people idler 
than me people who live on their money, with no 
land to bother about, and nothing to do for it at all.' 

'On the contrary, it is they who have an excuse. 
They have no natural opening, perhaps no plain 
call. You have both, and, as I said before, you have 
no right to take holidays before you have earned them. 
You have got to learn your business first, and then 
do it. Give your eight hours' day like other people ! 
Who are you that you should have all the cake of the 
world, and other people the crusts?' 

Frank walked to the window, and stood staring out, 
with his back turned to her. Her words stung and 
tingled ; and he was too miserable to fight. 

'I should n't care whether it were cake or crusts/ 
[ 395 ] 


he said at last, in a low voice, turning round to her, 
'if only Betty would have me/ 

' Do you think she is any the more likely to have 
you,' said Marcella, unrelenting, 'if you behave as 
a loafer and a runaway? Don't you suppose that 
Betty has good reasons for hesitating when she sees 
the difference between you and and other 

Frank looked at her sombrely a queer mixture 
of expressions on the face, in which the maturer man 
was already to be discerned at war with the powerful 
young animal. 

'I suppose you mean Lord Maxwell?' 

There was a pause. 

'You may take what I said/ she said at last, looking 
into the fire, ' as meaning anybody who pays honestly 
with work and brains for what society has given him 
- as far as he can pay, at any rate/ 

'Now look here/ said Frank, coming dolefully to 
sit down beside her; 'don't slate me any more. I'm 
a bad lot, I know well, an idle lot I don't think I 
am a bad lot but it's no good your preaching to me 
while Betty's sticking pins into me like this. Now just 
let me tell you how she's been behaving.' . 

Marcella succumbed, and heard him. He glanced at 
her surreptitiously from time to time, but he could 
make nothing of her. She sat very quiet while he 
described the constant companionship between Aldous 
and Betty, and the evident designs of Miss Raeburn. 
Just as when he made his first confidences to her in 
London, he was vaguely conscious that he was doing 
a not very gentlemanly thing. But again, he was too 
[ 396 ] 


unhappy to restrain himself, and he longed somehow 
to make an ally of her. 

'Well, I have only one thing to say/ she said at last, 
with an odd, nervous impatience 'go and ask her, 
and have done with it! she might have some respect 
for you then. No, I won't help you ; but if you don't 
succeed, I '11 pity you I promise you that. And now 
you must go away.' 

He went, feeling himself hardly treated, yet con- 
scious nevertheless of a certain stirring of the moral 
waters which had both stimulus and balm in it. 

She, left behind, sat quiet in the old library for a 
few lonely minutes. The boy's plight made her alter- 
nately scornful and repentant of her sharpness to him. 
As to his report, one moment it plunged her in an an- 
guish she dared hot fathom ; the next she was incred- 
ulous could not simply make herself take the thing 
as real. 

But one thing had been real that word from 
Aldous to her of 'marriage' I The nostril dilated, the 
breast heaved, as she lost all thought of Frank in a 
resentful passion that could neither justify nor calm 
itself. It seemed still as though he had struck her. 
Yet she knew well that she had nothing to forgive. 

Next morning she went down to the village mean- 
ing to satisfy herself on two or three points connected 
with the new cottages. On the way she knocked at 
the rectory garden-door, in the hope of finding Mary 
Harden and persuading her to come with her. 

She had not seen much of Mary since their return. 
Still, she had had time to be painfully struck once or 
[ 397 ] 


twice with the white and bloodless look of the Rector's 
sister, and with a certain patient silence about her 
which seemed to Marcella new. Was it the monotony 
of the life? or had both of them been overworking and 
underfeeding as usual? The Rector had received Mar- 
cella with his old gentle but rather distant kindness. 
Two years before he had felt strongly about many of 
her proceedings, and had expressed himself frankly 
enough, at least to Mary. Now he had put his former 
disapprovals out of his mind, and was only anxious 
to work smoothly with the owner of Mellor. He had 
a great respect for 'dignities/ and she, as far as the 
village was concerned, was to be his 'dignity' hence- 
forward. Moreover, he humbly and truly hoped that 
she might be able to enlighten him as to a good many 
modern conceptions and ideas about the poor, for 
which, absorbed as he was, either in almsgiving of the 
traditional type, or spiritual ministration, or sacra- 
mental theory, he had little time, and, if the truth 
were known, little affinity. 

In answer to her knock Marcella heard a faint 
'Come in' from the interior of the house. She walked 
into the dining-room, and found Mary sitting by the 
little table in tears. There were some letters before her, 
which she pushed away as Marcella entered, but she 
did not attempt to disguise her agitation. 

'What is it, dear? Tell me,' said Marcella, sitting 
down beside her, and kissing one of the hands she held. 

And Mary told her. It was the story of her life a 

simple tale of ordinary things, such as wring the quiet 

hearts and train the unnoticed saints of this world. 

In her first youth, when Charles Harden was for a time 

[ 398 ] 


doing some divinity lecturing in his Oxford college, 
Mary had gone up to spend a year with him in lodg- 
ings. Their Sunday teas and other small festivities 
were frequented by her brother's friends, men of like 
type with himself, and most of them either clergymen 
or about to be ordained. Between one of them, a young 
fellow looking out for his first curacy, and Mary, an 
attachment had sprung up, which Mary could not even 
now speak of. She hurried over it, with a trembling 
voice, to the tragedy beyond. Mr. Shelton got his 
curacy, went off to a parish in the Lincolnshire Fens, 
and there was talk of their being married in a year or 
so. But the exposure of a bitter winter's night, risked 
in the struggle across one of the bleakest flats of the dis- 
trict to carry the Sacrament to a dying parishioner, had 
brought on a peculiar and agonizing form of neuralgia. 
And from this pain, so nobly earned, had sprung 
oh ! mystery of human fate ! a morphia habit, with 
all that such a habit means for mind and body. It 
was discovered by the poor fellow's brother, who 
brought him up to London and tried to cure him. 
Meanwhile he himself had written to Mary to give her 
up. ' I have no will left, and am no longer a man/ he 
wrote to her. ' It would be an outrage on my part, and 
a sin on yours, if we did not cancel our promise/ 
Charles, who took a hard, ascetic view, held much the 
same language, and Mary submitted, heart-broken. 

Then came a gleam of hope. The brother's care and 
affection prevailed; there were rumours of great im- 
provement, of a resumption of work. 'Just two years 
ago, when you first came here, I was beginning to 
believe' -- she turned away her head to hide the rise 
[ 399 ] 


of tears 'that it might still come right.' But after 
some six or eight months of clerical work in London 
fresh trouble developed, lung mischief showed itself, 
and the system, undermined by long and deep de- 
pression, seemed to capitulate at once. 

'He died last December, at Madeira/ said Mary, 
quietly. ' I saw him before he left England. We wrote 
to each other almost to the end. He was quite at peace. 
This letter here was from the chaplain at Madeira, who 
was kind to him, to tell me about his grave.' 

That was all. It was the sort of story that some- 
how might have been expected to belong to Mary 
Harden to her round, plaintive face, to her narrow, 
refined experience; and she told it in a way eminently 
characteristic of her modes of thinking, religious or 
social, with old-fashioned or conventional phrases 
which, whatever might be the case with other people, 
had lost none of their bloom or meaning for her. 

Marcella's face showed her sympathy. They talked 
for half an hour, and at the end of it Mary flung her 
arms round her companion's neck. 

'There!' she said, 'now we must not talk any more 
about it. I am glad I told you. It was a comfort. 
And somehow I don't mean to be unkind ; but I 
could n't have told you in the old days it's wonder- 
ful how much better I like you now than I used to do, 
though perhaps we don't agree much better.' 

Both laughed, though the eyes of both were full of 

Presently they were in the village together. As they 
neared the Kurds' old cottage, which was now empty 
[ 400 ] 


and to be pulled down, a sudden look of disgust crossed 
Marcella's face. 

'Did I tell you my news of Minta Hurd?' she said. 

No ; Mary had heard nothing. So Marcella told the 
grotesque and ugly news, as it seemed to her, which 
had reached her at Amalfi. Jim Kurd's widow was to 
be married again, to the queer lanky 'professor of 
elocution/ with the Italian name and shifty eye, who 
lodged on the floor beneath her in Brown's Buildings, 
and had been wont to come in of an evening and play 
comic songs to her and the children. Marcella was 
vehemently sure that he was a charlatan that he 
got his living by a number of small dishonesties, that 
he had scented Minta's pension. But apart from the 
question whether he would make Minta a decent 
husband, or live upon her and beat her, was the fact 
itself of her re-marriage, in itself hideous to the girl. 

'Marry him!' she said. 'Marry any one! Isn't it 

They were in front of the cottage. Marcella paused 
a moment and looked at it. She saw again in sharp 
vision the miserable woman fainting on the settle, the 
dwarf sitting, handcuffed, under the eye of his captors ; 
she felt again the rush of that whirlwind of agony 
through which she had borne the wife's helpless soul 
in that awful dawn. 

And after that exit! with her 'professor of 
elocution.' It made the girl sick to think of. And 
Mary, out of a Puseyite dislike of second marriage, 
felt and expressed much the same repulsion. 

Well Minta Hurd was far away, and if she had 
been there to defend herself her powers of expression 
[ 401 ] 


would have been no match for theirs. Nor does youth 
understand such pleas as she might have urged. 

'Will Lord Maxwell continue the pension?' said 

Marcella stopped again, involuntarily. 

'So that was his doing?' she said. 'I supposed as 

'You did not know?' cried Mary, in distress. 'Oh! 
I believe I ought not to have said anything about it/ 

'I always guessed it/ said Marcella, shortly, and 
they walked on in silence. 

Presently they found themselves in front of Mrs. 
Jellison's very trim and pleasant cottage, which lay 
farther along the common, to the left of the road to the 
Court. There was an early pear tree in blossom over 
the porch, and a swelling greenery of buds in the little 

'Will you come in?' said Mary. 'I should like to 
see Isabella Westall/ 

Marcella started at the name. 

'How is she?' she asked. 

'Just the same. She has never been in her right 
mind since. But she is quite harmless and quiet/ 

They found Mrs. Jellison on one side of the fire, with 
her daughter on the other, and the little six-year- 
old Johnnie playing between them. Mrs. Jellison 
was straw-plaiting, twisting the straws with amazing 
rapidity, her fingers stained with red from the dye of 
them. Isabella was, as usual, doing nothing. She 
stared when Marcella and Mary came in, but she took 
no other notice of them. Her powerful and tragic 
face had the look of something originally full of in- 
[ 402 ] 


tention, from which spirit and meaning had long de- 
parted, leaving a fine- but lifeless outline. Marcella 
had seen it last on the night of the execution, in ghastly 
apparition at Minta Kurd's window, when it might 
have been caught by some sculptor in quest of the 
secrets of violent expression, fixed in clay or marble, 
and labelled 'Revenge/ or 'Passion.' 

Its passionless emptiness now filled her with pity 
and horror. She sat down beside the widow and took 
her hand. Mrs. Westall allowed it for a moment, then 
drew her own away suddenly, and Marcella saw a cu- 
rious and sinister contraction of the eyes. 

'Ah! yo never know how much Isabella unner- 
stan's, an how much she don't/ Mrs. Jellison was 
saying to Mary. 'I can't allus make her out, but she 
don't give no trouble. An as for that boy, he's a 
chirruper, he is. He gives 'em fine times at school, he 
do. Miss Barton, she ast him in class, Thursday, 'bout 
Ananias and Sappira. "Johnnie/' says she, "whatever 
made 'em do sich a wicked thing?" "Well, I do'n' 
know," says he; "it was jus their nassty good-for- 
nothink," says he; "but they was great sillies," says 
he. Oh ! he don't mean no harm! Lor bless yer, the 
men is all born contrary, and they can't help them- 
selves. Oh ! thank yer, Miss, my 'ealth is pretty tidy, 
though I 'ave been plagued this winter with a something 
they call the 'flenzy. I wor very bad ! " Yo go to bed, 
Mrs. Jellison," says Dr. Sharpe, "or yo'll know of it." 
But I wor n't goin to be talked to by 'im. Why, I 
knowed 'im when he wor no 'igher nor Johnnie. An 
I kep puddlin along, an one mornin I wor fairly 
choked, an I just crawled into that parlour, an I 
[ 403 ] 


took a sup o' brandy out o' the bottle' -- she looked 
complacently at Mary, quite conscious that the Rec- 
tor's sister must be listening to her with disapproving 
ears 'an, Lor bless yer, it cut the phlegm, it did, 
that very moment. My ! I did cough. I drawed it up 
by the yard, I did and I crep back along the wall, 
an yo cud ha knocked me down wi one o' my own 
straws. But I've ben better iver since, an beginnin 
to eat my vittles, too, though I'm never no great 
pecker I ain't not at no time/ 

Mary managed to smother her emotions on the 
subject of the brandy, and the old woman chattered 
on, throwing out the news of the village in a series 
of humorous fragments, tinged in general with the 
lowest opinion of human nature. 

When the girls took leave of her, she said slyly to 
Marcella : 

'An 'ow about your plaitin, Miss? though I des- 
say I'm a bold 'un for astin.' 

Marcella coloured. 

'Well, I've got it to think about, Mrs. Jellison. We 
must have a meeting in the village and talk it over 
one of these days.' 

The old woman nodded in a shrewd silence, and 
watched them depart. 

'Wull, I reckon Jimmy Gedge 'ull lasst my time/ 
she said to herself with a chuckle. 

If Mrs. Jellison had this small belief in the powers 

of the new mistress of Mellor over matters which, 

according to her, had been settled generations ago by 

'the Lord and Natur/ Marcella certainly was in no 

[ 404 ] 


mood to contradict her. She walked through the 
village on her return scanning everything about 
her the slatternly girls plaiting on the doorsteps, the 
children in the lane, the loungers round the various 
* publics/ the labourers, old and young, who touched 
their caps to her with a moody and passionate eye. 

'Mary!' she broke out as they neared the rectory, 
' I shall be twenty-four directly. How much harm do 
you think I shall have done here by the time I am 

Mary laughed at her, and tried to cheer her. But 
Marcella was in the depths of self-disgust. 

'What is wanted, really wanted/ she said, with 
intensity, 'is not my help, but their growth. How can 
I make them take for themselves take, roughly and 
selfishly even, if they will only take ! As for my giving, 
what relation has it to anything real or lasting?' 

Mary was scandalised. 

'I declare you are as bad as Mr. Craven/ she said. 
'He told Charles yesterday that the curtseys of the 
old women in the village to him and Charles wo- 
men old enough to be their grandmothers sickened 
him of the whole place, and that he should regard it 
as the chief object of his work here to make such 
things impossible in the future. Or perhaps you're 
still of Mr. Mr. Wharton's opinion you'll be ex- 
pecting Charles and me to give up charity. But it's no 
good, my dear. We're not "advanced," and we never 
shall be/ 

At the mention of Wharton, Marcella threw her 
proud head back ; wave after wave of changing expres- 
sion passed over the face. 

[ 405 ] 


'I often remember the things Mr. Wharton said in 
this village/ she said at last. 'There was life and salt 
and power in many of them. It's not what he said, 
but what he was, that one wants to forget.' 

They parted presently, and Marcella went heavily 
home. The rising of the spring, the breath of the 
April air, had never yet been sad and oppressive to her 
as they were to-day. 


OH! Miss Boyce, may I come in?' 

The voice was Frank Leven's. Marcella was sitting 
in the old library alone late on the following afternoon. 
Louis Craven, who was now her paid agent and ad- 
viser, had been with her, and she had accounts and 
estimates before her. 

'Come in/ she said, startled a little by Frank's tone 
and manner, and looking at him interrogatively. 

Frank shut the heavy old door carefully behind 
him. Then, as he advanced to her, she saw that his 
flushed face wore an expression unlike anything she 
had yet seen there of mingled joy and fear. 

She drew back involuntarily. 

'Is there anything anything wrong?' 

'No/ he said, impetuously, 'no! But I have some- 
thing to tell you, and I don't know how. I don't know 
whether I ought. I have run almost all the way 
from the Court/ 

And, indeed, he could hardly get his breath. He 
took a stool she pushed to him, and tried to collect 
himself. She heard her heart beat as she waited for 
him to speak. 

'It's about Lord Maxwell/ he said at last, huskily, 
turning his head away from her to the fire. ' I ' ve just 
had a long walk with him. Then he left me ; he had no 
idea I came on here. But something drove me; I felt 
I must come, I must tell. Will you promise not to be 
[ 407 ] 


angry with me to believe that I've thought about 
it that I'm doing it for the best?' 

He looked at her nervously. 

' If you would n't keep me waiting so long/ she said, 
faintly, while her cheeks and lips grew white. 

'Well I was mad this morning! Betty hasn't 
spoken to me since yesterday. She's been always 
about with him, and Miss Raeburn let me see once or 
twice last night that she thought I was in the way. 
I never slept a wink last night, and I kept out of their 
sight all fche morning. Then, after lunch, I went up to 
him, and I asked him to come for a walk with me. 
He looked at me rather queerly I suppose I was 
pretty savage. Then he said he'd come. And off we 
went, ever so far across the park. And I let out. I 
don't know what I said ; I suppose I made a beast of 
myself. But anyway, I asked him to tell me what he 
meant, and to tell me, if he could, what Betty meant. 
I said I knew I was a cool hand, and he might turn me 
out of the house, and refuse to have anything more to 
do with me if he liked. But I was going to rack and 
ruin, and should never be any good till I knew where 
I stood and Betty would never be serious and, 
in short, was he in love with her himself? for any one 
could see what Miss Raeburn was thinking of.' 

The boy gulped down something like a sob, and 
tried to give himself time to be coherent again. Mar- 
cella sat like a stone. 

'When he heard me say that "in love with her 

yourself," he stopped dead. I saw that I had made 

him angry. "What right have you or any one else," 

he said, very short, "to ask me such a question?" 

[ 408 ] 


Then I just lost my head, and said anything that 
came handy. I told him everybody talked about it - 
whicK, of course, was rubbish and at last I said, 
"Ask anybody; ask the Winterbournes, ask Miss 
Boyce they all think it as much as I do." "Miss 
Boyce!" he said "Miss Boyce thinks I want to 
marry Betty Macdonald?" Then I did n't know what 
to say for, of course, I knew I 'd taken your name 
in vain; and he sat down on the grass beside a little 
stream there is in the park, and he did n't speak to 
me for a long time I could see him throwing little 
stones into the water. And at last he called me. 
" Frank ! " he said ; and I went up to him. And then - 

The lad seemed to tremble all over. He bent for- 
ward and laid his hand on Marcella's knee, touching 
her cold ones. 

'And then he said, "I can't understand yet, Frank, 
how you or anybody else can have mistaken my friend- 
ship for Betty Macdonald. At any rate, I know there's 
been no mistake on her part. And if you take my 
advice, you'll go and speak to her like a man, with all 
your heart, and see what she says. You don't deserve 
her yet, that I can tell you. As for me" - 1 can't 
describe the look of his face ; I only know I wanted to 
go away " you and I will be friends for many years, 
I hope, so perhaps you may just understand this, once 
for all. For me there never has been, and there never 
will be, but one woman in the world to love. And 
you know," he said after a bit, "or you ought to 
know, very well, who that woman is." And then he 
got up and walked away. He did not ask me to come, 
and I felt I dared not go after him. And then 
[ 409 ] 


I lay and thought. I remembered being here; I 
thought of what I had said to you of what I had 
fancied now and then about about you. I felt my- 
self a brute all round; for what right had I to come 
and tell you what he told me? And yet, there it was 
- 1 had to come. And if it was no good my coming, 
why, we need n't say anything about it ever, need 
we? But but just look here, Miss Boyce; if you 
- if you could begin over again, and make Aldous 
happy, then there 'd be a good many other people 
happy too I can tell you that/ 

He could hardly speak plainly. Evidently there 
was on him an overmastering impulse of personal de- 
votion, gratitude, remorse, which for the moment even 
eclipsed his young passion. It was but vaguely ex- 
plained by anything he had said ; it rested clearly on 
the whole of his afternoon's experience. 

But neither could Marcella speak, and her pallor 
began to alarm him. 

'I say!' he cried; 'you're not angry with me?' 

She moved away from him, and with her shak- 
ing finger began to cut the pages of a book 
that lay open on the mantelpiece. The little mechan- 
ical action seemed gradually to restore her to self- 

'I don't think I can talk about it,' she said at last, 
with an effort; 'not now.' 

'Oh! I know,' said Frank, in penitence, looking at 
her black dress; 'you've been upset, and had such a 
lot of trouble. But I ' 

She laid her hand on his shoulder. He thought he 
had never seen her so beautiful, pale as she was. 
[ 410 ] 


'I'm not the least angry. I'll tell you so another 
day. Now, are you going to Betty?' 

The young fellow sprang up, all his expression 
changing, answering to the stimulus of the word. 

'They'll be home directly, Miss Raeburn and Betty,' 
he said steadily, buttoning his coat; 'they'd gone out 
calling somewhere. Oh ! she'll lead me a wretched life, 
will Betty, before she's done!' 

A charming little ghost of a smile crossed Marcella's 
white lips. 

'Probably Betty knows her business,' she said; 'if 
she's quite unmanageable, send her to me.' 

In his general turmoil of spirits the boy caught her 
hand and kissed it would have liked, indeed, to 
kiss her and all the world. But she laughed, and sent 
him away, and with a sly, lingering look at her he 

She sank into her chair and never moved for long. 
The April sun was just sinking behind the cedars, and 
through the open south window of the library came 
little spring airs and scents of spring flowers. There 
was an endless twitter of birds, and beside her the 
soft chatter of the wood-fire. An hour before, her 
mood had been at open war with the spring, and with 
all those impulses and yearnings in herself which 
answered to it. Now it seemed to her that a wonderful 
and buoyant life, akin to all the vast stir, the sweet 
revivals of Nature, was flooding her whole being. 

She gave herself up to it, in a trance interwoven 

with all the loveliest and deepest things she had ever 

felt with her memory of Hallin, with her new grop- 

ings after God. Just as the light was going she got up. 

[ 411 ] 


hurriedly and went to her writing-table. She wrote 
a little note, sat over it a while, with her face hidden 
in her hands, then sealed, addressed, and stamped it. 
She went out herself to the hall to put it in the letter- 
box. For the rest of the evening she went about in a 
state of dream, overcome sometimes by rushes of joy, 
which yet had in them exquisite elements of pain; 
hungering for the passage of the hours, for sleep that 
might cancel some of them ; picturing the road to the 
Court and Widrington, along which the old postman 
had by now carried her letter the bands of moonlight 
and shade lying across it, the quiet of the budding woods, 
and the spot on the hillside where he had spoken to 
her in that glowing October. It must lie all night in 
a dull office her letter ; she was impatient and sorry 
for it. And when he got it, it would tell him nothing, 
though she thought it would rather surprise him. It 
was the merest formal request that he would, if he 
could, come and see her again the following morning 
on business. 

During the evening Mrs. Boyce lay on the sofa and 
read. It always still gave the daughter a certain shock 
of surprise when she saw the slight form resting in 
this way. In words Mrs. Boyce would allow nothing, 
and her calm composure had been unbroken from the 
moment of their return home, though it was not yet 
two months since her husband's death. In these days 
she read enormously, which again was a new trait - 
especially novels. She read each through rapidly, 
laid it down without a word or comment, and took up 
another. Once or twice, but very rarely, Marcella 
surprised her in absent meditation, her hand covering 
[ 412 ] 


the page. From the hard, satiric brightness of her 
look on these occasions it seemed probable that she 
was speculating on the discrepancies between fiction 
and real life, and on the falsity of most literary senti- 

To-night Marcella sat almost silent she was mak- 
ing a frock for a village child she had carried off from 
its mother, who was very ill and Mrs. Boyce read. 
But as the clock approached ten, the time when they 
generally went upstairs, Marcella made a few uncer- 
tain movements, and finally got up, took a stool, and 
sat down beside the sofa. 

An hour later Marcella entered her own room. As 
she closed the door behind her she gave an involuntary 
sob, put down her light, and hurrying up to the bed, 
fell on her knees beside it and wept long. Yet her 
mother had not been unkind to her. Far from it. 
Mrs. Boyce had praised her in few words, but with 
evident sincerity for the courage that could, if 
necessary, put convention aside; had spoken of her 
own relief ; had said pleasant things of Lord Maxwell ; 
had bantered Marcella a little on her social schemes, 
had wished her the independence to stick to them. 
Finally, as they got up to go to bed, she kissed Marcella 
twice instead of once, and said : 

' Well, my dear, I shall not be in your way to-mor- 
row morning; I promise you that/ 

The speaker's satisfaction was plain; yet nothing 
could have been less maternal. The girl's heart, when 
she found herself alone, was very sore, and the depres- 
sion of a past which had been so much of a failure, so 
[ 413 ] 


lacking in any satisfied emotion and the sweet pre- 
ludes of family affection, darkened for a while even 
the present and the future. 

After a time she got up, and leaving her room, 
went to sit in a passage outside it. It was the piece of 
wide upper corridor leading to the winding stairs she 
had descended on the night of the ball. It was one of 
the loneliest and oddest places in the house, for it 
communicated only with her room and the little stair- 
case, which was hardly ever used. It was, indeed, 
a small room in itself, and was furnished with a few 
huge old chairs with moth-eaten frames and tattered 
seats. A flowery paper of last-century date sprawled 
over the walls, the carpet had many holes in it, and 
the shallow, traceried windows, set almost flush in the 
outer surface of the wall, were curtainless now, as they 
had been two years before. 

She drew one of the old chairs to a window, and 
softly opened it. There was a young moon, and many 
stars, seen uncertainly through the rush of April cloud. 
Every now and then a splash of rain moved the creep- 
ers and swept across the lawn, to be followed by a 
spell of growing and breathing silence. The scent of 
hyacinths and tulips mounted through the wet air. 
She could see a long ghostly line of primroses, from 
which rose the grey base of the Tudor front, chequered 
with a dim light and shade. Beyond the garden, with 
its vague forms of fountain and sun-dial, the cedars 
stood watching ; the little church slept to her left. 

So, face to face with Nature, the old house, and the 
night, she took passionate counsel with herself. After 
to-night surely, she would be no more lonely! She 
[ 414 ] 


was going for ever from her own keeping to that of an- 
other. For she never, from the moment she wrote her 
letter, had the smallest doubt as to what his answer 
to her would be; never the smallest dread that he 
would, even in the lightest passing impression, con- 
nect what she was going to do with any thought of 
blame or wonder. Her pride and fear were gone out of 
her; only, she dared not think of how he would look 
and speak when the moment came, because it made 
her sick and faint with feeling. 

How strange to imagine what, no doubt, would be 
said and thought about her return to him by the out- 
side world! His great place in society, his wealth, 
would be the obvious solution of it for many too 
obvious even to be debated. Looking back upon her 
thoughts of this night in after years, she could not 
remember that the practical certainty of such an inter- 
pretation had even given her a moment's pain. It 
was too remote from all her now familiar ways of 
thinking and his. In her earlier Mellor days the 
enormous importance that her feverish youth attached 
to wealth and birth might have been seen in her very 
attacks upon them. Now all her standards were spirit- 
ualized. She had come to know what happiness and 
affection are possible in three rooms, or two, on 
twenty-eight shillings a week ; and, on the other hand, 
her knowledge of Aldous a man of stoical and sim- 
ple habit, thrust, with a student's tastes, into the po- 
sition of a great landowner had shown her, in the 
case at least of one member of the rich class, how 
wealth may be a true moral burden and test, the source 
of half the difficulties and pains of half the noble- 
[ 415 ] 


ness also of a man's life. Not in mere wealth and 
poverty, she thought, but in things of quite another 
order things of social sympathy and relation al- 
terable at every turn, even under existing conditions, 
by the human will, lie the real barriers that divide us 
man from man. 

Had they ever really formed a part of historical 
time, those eight months of their engagement? Look- 
ing back upon them, she saw herself moving about in 
them like a creature without eyes, worked, blindfold, 
by a crude inner mechanism that took no account 
really of impressions from without. Yet that passion- 
ate sympathy with the poor that hatred of oppres- 
sion! Even these seemed to her to-night the blind, 
spasmodic efforts of a mind that all through saw no- 
thing mistook its violences and self-wills for eternal 
right, and was but traitor to what should have been 
its own first loyalties, in seeking to save and reform. 

Was true love now to deliver her from that sympathy, 
to deaden in her that hatred? Her whole soul cried 
out in denial. By daily life in natural relations with 
the poor, by a fruitful contact with fact, by the clash of 
opinion in London, by the influence of a noble friend- 
ship, by the education of awakening passion what 
had once been mere tawdry and violent hearsay had 
passed into a true devotion, a true thirst for social 
good. She had ceased to take a system cut and dried 
from the Venturists, or any one else; she had ceased 
to think of whole classes of civilised society with ab- 
horrence and contempt ; and there had dawned in her 
that temper which is in truth implied in all the more 
majestic conceptions of the State the temper that 
[ 416 ] 


regards the main institutions of every great civilisa- 
tion, whether it be property, or law, or religious cus- 
tom, as necessarily, in some degree, divine and sacred. 
For man has not been their sole artificer ! Throughout 
there has been working with him ' the spark that fires 
our clay/ 

Yes ! but modification, progress, change, there 
must be, for us as for our fathers! Would marriage 
fetter her? It was not the least probable that he and 
she, with their differing temperaments, would think 
alike in the future, any more than in the past. She 
would always be for experiments, for risks, which his 
critical temper, his larger brain, would of themselves 
be slow to enter upon. Yet she knew well enough that 
in her hands they would become bearable and even 
welcome to him. And for himself, she thought with a 
craving, remorseful tenderness of that pessimist tem- 
per of his towards his own work and function that she 
knew so well. In old days it had merely seemed to her 
inadequate, if not hypocritical. She would have liked 
to drive the dart deeper, to make him still unhappier! 
Now, would not a wife's chief function be to reconcile 
him with himself and life, to cheer him forward on the 
lines of his own nature, to believe, understand, help? 

Yet always in the full liberty to make her own sac- 
rifices, to realise her own dreamlands! She thought 
with mingled smiles and tears of her plans for this bit 
of earth that fate had brought under her hand ; she 
pledged herself to every man, woman, and child on it 
so to live her life that each one of theirs should be the 
richer for it ; she set out, so far as in her lay, to 'choose 
equality/ And beyond Mellor, in the great changing 
[ 417 ] 


world of social speculation and endeavour, she prayed 
always for the open mind, the listening heart. 

'There is one conclusion, one cry, I always come 
back to at last/ she remembered hearing Hallin say 
to a young Conservative with whom he had been hav- 
ing a long economic and social argument. 'Never re- 
sign yourself! that seems to be the main note of it. 
Say, if you will believe, if you will, that human na- 
ture, being what it is, and what, so far as we can see, 
it always must be, the motives which work the present 
social and industrial system can never be largely super- 
seded ; that property and saving luck, too ! strug- 
gle, success, and failure, must go on. That is one's 
intellectual conclusion; and one has a right to it 
you and I are at one in it. But then on the heels of it 
comes the moral imperative ! " Hold what you please 
about systems and movements, and fight for what 
you hold ; only, as an individual never say never 
think! that it is in the order of things, in the purpose 
of God, that one of these little ones this Board- 
School child, this man honestly out of work, this 
woman 'sweated' out of her life should perish!" A 
contradiction, or a commonplace, you say? Well and 
good. The only truths that burn themselves into the 
conscience, that work themselves out through the 
slow and manifold processes of the personal will into 
a pattern of social improvement, are the contradictions 
and the commonplaces!' 

So here, in the dark, alone with the haunting, up- 
lifting presences of 'admiration, hope, and love/ 
Marcella vowed, within the limits of her personal 
scope and power, never to give up the struggle for a 
[ 418 ] 


nobler human fellowship, the lifelong toil to under- 
stand, the passionate effort to bring honour and in- 
dependence and joy to those who had them not. But 
not alone ; only, not alone ! She had learnt something 
of the dark aspects, the crushing complexity of the 
world. She turned from them to-night, at last, with 
a natural human terror, to hide herself in her own 
passion, to make of love her guide and shelter. Her 
whole rich being was wrought to an intoxication of 
self-giving. Oh! let the night go faster! faster! and 
bring his step upon the road, her cry of repentance 
to his ear. 

'I trust I am not late. Your clocks, I think, are 
ahead of ours. You said eleven?' 

Aldous advanced into the room with hand out- 
stretched. He had been ushered into the drawing- 
room, somewhat to his surprise. 

Marcella came forward. She was in black as before, 
and pale, but there was a knot of pink anemones 
fastened at her throat, which, in the play they made 
with her face and hair, gave him a start of pleasure. 

'I wanted,' she said, 'to ask you again about those 
shares how to manage the sale of them. Could you 
- could you give me the name of some one in the City 
you trust?' 

He was conscious of some astonishment. 

'Certainly/ he said. 'If you would rather not en- 
trust it to Mr. French, I can give you the name of the 
firm my grandfather and I have always employed ; or 
I could manage it for you if you would allow me. 
You have quite decided?' 

[ 419 ] 


'Yes/ she said, mechanically 'quite. And and 
I think I could do it myself. Would you mind writing 
the address for me, and will you read what I have 
written there?' 

She pointed to the little writing-table and the writ- 
ing-materials upon it, then turned away to the window. 
He looked at her an instant with uneasy amazement. 

He walked up to the table, put down his hat and 
gloves beside it, and stooped to read what was written. 

'It was in this room you told me I had done you a 
great wrong. But wrongdoers may be pardoned some- 
times, if they ask it. Let me know by a sign, a look, if 
I may ask it. If not it would be kind to go away without 
a word.' 

She heard a cry. But she did not look up. She only 
knew that he had crossed the room, that his arms were 
round her, her head upon his breast. 

' Marcella ! wife ! ' was all he said, and that in a 
voice so low, so choked, that she could hardly hear it. 

He held her so for a minute or more, she weeping, 
his own eyes dim with tears, her cheek laid against 
the stormy beating of his heart. 

At last he raised her face, so that he could see it. 

'So this this was what you had in your mind 
towards me, while I have been despairing fighting 
with myself, walking in darkness. Oh, my darling! 
explain it. How can it be? Am I real? Is this face - 
these lips real?' --he kissed both, trembling. 'Oh! 
when a man is raised thus in a moment from 
torture and hunger to full joy, there are no words - 

His head sank on hers, and there was silence again, 
while he wrestled with himself. 
[ 420 ] 


At last she looked up, smiling. 

'You are, please, to come over here/ she said, and 
leading him by the hand, she took him to the other 
side of the room. 'That is the chair you sat in that 
morning. Sit down!' 

He sat down, wondering, and before he could guess 
what she was going to do she had sunk on her knees 
beside him. 

'I am going to tell you/ she said, 'a hundred things 
I never told you before. You are to hear me confess ; 
you are to give me penance ; you are to say the hardest 
things possible to me. If you don't I shall distrust you/ 

She smiled at him again through her tears. 'Mar- 
cella/ he cried in distress, trying to lift her, to rise 
himself, 'you can't imagine that I should let you 
kneel to me!' 

'You must/ she said, steadily; 'well, if it will make 
you happier, I will take a stool and sit by you. But 
you are there above me I am at your feet it is 
the same chair, and you shall not move' she stooped 
in a hasty passion, as though atoning for her 'shall/ 
and kissed his hand 'till I have said it all every 

So she began it her long confession, from the 
earliest days. He winced often she never wavered. 
She carried through the sharpest analysis of her whole 
mind with regard to him ; of her relations to him and 
Wharton in the old days; of the disloyalty and light- 
ness with which she had treated the bond, that yet she 
had never, till quite the end, thought seriously of 
breaking; of her selfish indifference to, even contempt 
for, his life, his interests, his ideals; of her calm fore- 
[ 421 ] 


casts of a married state in which she was always to 
take the lead and always to be in the right then 
of the real misery and struggle of the Hurd trial. 

'That was my first true experience,' she said; 'it 
made me wild and hard, but it burnt, it purified. I 
began to live. Then came the day when when we 
parted the time in the hospital the nursing - 
the evening on the Terrace. I had been thinking of 
you because remorse made me think of you soli- 
tude Mr. Hallin everything. I wanted you to be 
kind to me, to behave as though you had forgotten 
everything, because it would have made me com- 
fortable and happy; or I thought it would. And then, 
that night you would n't be kind, you would n't for- 
get instead, you made me pay my penalty.' 

She stared at him an instant, her dark brows drawn 
together, struggling to keep her tears back, yet lighten- 
ing from moment to moment into a divine look of 
happiness. He tried to take possession of her, to stop 
her, to silence all this self-condemnation on his breast. 
But she would not have it ; she held him away from her. 

'That night, though I walked up and down the Ter- 
race with Mr. Wharton afterwards, and tried to fancy 
myself in love with him that night, for the first 
time, I began to love you! It was mean and miser- 
able, was n't it, not to be able to appreciate the gift, 
only to feel when it was taken away? It was like being 
good when one is punished, because one must ' 

She laid down her head against his chair with a long 

sigh. He could bear it no longer. He lifted her in his 

arms, talking to her passionately of the feelings which 

had been the counterpart to hers, the longings, jeal- 

[ 422 ] 


ousies, renunciations above all, the agony of that 
moment at the Master-tons' party. 

'Hallin was the only person who understood/ he 
said; 'he knew all the time that I should love you to 
my grave. I could talk to him.' 

She gave a little sob of joy, and pushing herself 
away from him an instant, she laid a hand on his 

'I told him/ she said 'I told him, that night he 
was dying.' 

He looked at her with an emotion too deep even for 

'He never spoke coherently after you left him. 
At the end he motioned to me, but there were no 
words. If I could possibly love you more, it would be 
because you gave him that joy.' 

He held her hand, and there was silence. Hallin 
stood beside them, living and present again in the life 
of their hearts. 

Then, little by little, delight and youth and love 
stole again upon their senses. 

'Do you suppose/ he exclaimed, 'that I yet under- 
stand in the least how it is that I am here, in this chair, 
with you beside me? You have told me much ancient 
history ! but all that truly concerns me this morning 
lies in the dark. The last time I saw you, you were 
standing at the garden-door, with a look which made 
me say to myself that I was the same blunderer I had 
always been, and had far best keep away. Bridge me 
the gap, please, between that hell and this heaven !' 

She held her head high, and changed her look of 
softness for a frown. 

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U . S . A 

Ward, Mary Augusta (Arnold) 
5710 The writings of Humphry 

1911 Ward